THE FTAA AND THE WTO:
THE META-PROGRAM FOR GLOBAL CORPORATE RULE
by Professor John McMurtry,
The “Free Trade Area of the
however, has woken up to the global corporate coup d’état, and people
are taking to the streets, now in
Meanwhile the deepest and most systemic threat to civil and planetary life the world
has ever faced will persist and increase. Behind
the unfolding disasters of regional economies and planetary ecosystems melting
down, the threat is driven by an underlying
meta-program, in terms of which every decision, every policy, every regulation
and implementation is demanded and instituted by servant governments. The meta-principles constituting this
mind-set are robotic, much like the mind-set of a fanatic cult.
But because they are presupposed by the corporate party and its media and
political servants as the given order of the new world,
they are never exposed as a deranged program of mind. Only fragments and
partial themes are discerned, not the underlying
structure as a dictatorial whole. The invisible prison of this
agenda for world rule always conforms to the following meta-principles.
(1) The ultimate subject and sovereign ruler of the world is the transnational corporation, operating by collective prescription and enforcement through the World Trade Organization in concert with its prototype the NAFTA, its European collaborator, the EU, and such derivative regional instruments as the APEC, the MAI, the FTAA, and so on. Together these constitute the hierarchical formation of the planet’s new rule by extra-parliamentary and transnational fiat.
(2) Individual transnational corporations are the moving parts of this global corporate system. They are non-living aggregates of dominant private stock-holders who, as individual persons, are made legally immune by “acts of incorporation” from any liability for corporate harms done to societies, to other individuals, and to the environment, as well from accumulated corporate debts or offences against national and international law. This is the legal armour around the agents of the global corporate system which affords them with unaccountable impunity for whatever damage or crime they impose on individuals, societies or environments around the world.
(3) Transnational corporations acting in concert through the WTO and its related supranational constructs prescribe to and are represented by financed national government parties which act in these matters solely on behalf of transnational corporate access to foreign markets and resources with no barriers. This private corporate rule over governments everywhere is evident from the general facts that no binding regulation yet protects any right but that of transnational corporate investors, and not one article of any already signed international covenant or treaty protecting human rights, labour or the environment is binding on any part of any one of these unprecedentedly enforced “agreements”. Indeed, the Kyoto Treaty on climate-altering gases, the Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting chemicals and emissions, the Basel Convention on transboundary pollutants as well as the entire body of established international solemn agreements and covenants on human and labour rights have been consistently overridden by transnational corporate practices or the explicit judgements of WTO trade panels.
(4) All such treaties and agreements
obliging compliance with transnational corporate
rights are proposed, negotiated and finalised
behind closed doors and wide perimeters of armed force, with police pepper
spray, shackles, harassment or surveillance for those who publicly protest. All
these agreements, moreover, rule out any other public participation in or
appeal against their decrees by anyone except corporate or state
representatives, and adjudicate all disputes in
secret before unelected authorities and tribunals, with no public or elected
observers of these proceedings permitted, and with no record of their
proceedings published for public view. Yet publics
across the world are obliged to pay all the costs of negotiating, instituting
and enforcing these absolutist prescriptions to the world’s nations, and are
forced also to pay all the fines and trade penalties imposed on their own
elected governments for legislating democratic or environmentally protective
policies which are deemed to conflict with this unaccountable transnational regulatory regime. This Orwellian arrangement
is known as “investor-state dispute resolution”.
(5) All executive authorities within individual corporate bodies are all the while bound by the “fiduciary duty” to maximize monetized returns to their corporate stockholders (including in particular themselves) as the overriding obligation of decisions and actions , thereby compelling them by corporate charter prescription to minimise all expenditures on protecting human and non-human life by worker pay, social benefits or environmental regulation. In this way, it becomes a violation of legally binding corporate morality for its operations to take account of the life interests of employees, surrounding communities and environments, or even the future life of the world ahead of shareholders’ continuous maximisation of money profit.
(6) The system’s universal principle of “rationality” is, in consequence, to externalise all costs onto other individuals, societies and environments so that no form of human existence or responsibility such as “citizen” or “person” or “respecter of other life” is recognised by the corporate calculus or its state servants. Only self-maximising “profitable enterprises” and their “consumers” exist to the mindset. This form of life is then everywhere prescribed as “inevitable“ for all peoples, and is proclaimed by its agents to offer societies across the world “no alternative”.
(7) “Consumers”, in turn, are not co-extensive with human beings or even the majority of human beings. This is because only humans with sufficient money-demand to purchase corporate products are recognized by this global system as possessing any right to access any good - from food and water to housing, health-care and whatever else can be privatised for profit. What can be “privatised”, or in reality, corporatised for profit, is accordingly assumed to include ever more of the conditions of planetary existence without any limit. Genetic structures, the body’s most basic means of life, the elements of nature, and publicly funded knowledge are all now being rapidly disassembled , restructured and appropriated by transnational corporations for their maximum private control and profit.
(8) Any alternative mode for production or
distribution of any priceable good - socially owned
or controlled, publicly subsidized or assisted domestically, self-sufficient or
co-operative, or declared without genetic modification or corporate additive –
is made illegal under transnational trade regulations.
If any society or government is resistant, its economy is denounced
through state finance and trade offices and global mass media as
“non-competitive”, “protectionist”, “monopolist” or “communist”,
and attacked on the ground by every means available to the global
corporate system, including transnational trade
embargo and armed invasion in abrogation of international criminal law. This is
the true and grave meaning of “global market
freedom” in the corporate system.
(9) Consumers and investors with sufficient money-demand to exchange within the global market are, in fact, the only bearers of freedoms recognised by this system, and are axiomatically assumed to have no upper limit to their commodity consumption or their demand acquisition, even if an increasing majority of their fellow citizens or humanity have few or no means of existence. This is the “non-satiety” principle of neo-classical economics. It is also the unstated meaning of “equality of opportunity” in global market doctrine and practice - the equality of money demand for those who have it, and no-one else.
(10) There is within the global corporate system no requirement of any kind, theoretical or practical, to recognize any life need of any individual (eg. nourishing food) or society (eg. non-toxic air) as rightful, or as a priority, or as an issue of choice within this system, however massive and extreme the gap between life-deprivation and over-consumption grows. As a few hundred “investors” exponentially increase their money demand to more than the total income of the majority of the world’s population with their “investments” irreversibly stripping the world’s ecosystems at the same time, no policy is even mooted by the U.N. to regulate this planetary disaster . The U.N. Secretary-General, on the contrary, has instituted in 2001 a U.N. “Global Compact” to require all U.N. agencies to enter into “corporate partnership” with the world’s richest transnational corporations.
pollution, degradation, overloading, exhaustion or destruction of local or
planetary ecosystems occurs, and however irreversibly devastating in
consequences to human and biodiverse life these
damages from corporate extractions, effluents, and commodities are, there is
not one binding article in any transnational trade
treaty or agreement (excepting intra-European) which protects or seeks to
protect any human or environmental life condition or good. All “scarcities” thus arising are
assumed, with no scientific evidence to
substantiate the assumption, to be correctable by market price mechanisms
alone. This is why the U.S. Congress refuses to comply with
the Kyoto Treaty until it makes all pollution abatement measures conform to a
system of salable pollution credits - which
have never reduced pollution, but which accord instituted corporate rights to
pollute which can be sold as new and free equity, and which can be profited
from at another, new level of the global market.
(12) However many millions or billions of society’s or the world’s human population are misemployed, underemployed or starvation-waged with not enough to live on, and however life-destructive and chronically debilitating their hours and conditions of work are -- a majority of the world altogether -- there is no principle, norm or standard in neo-classical market theory or global market practice which recognizes or can recognize any of these depredations of human life as an issue or a problem. On the contrary, this life-blind paradigm can only compute these strippings of most of the world’s people as a new “flexibility of labour supply” and a multiple “opportunity to reduce the costs of labour” by exercise of new transnational corporate rights to produce in the lowest-cost zones of the world and sell in the highest-scale markets with no “barriers to trade”.
(13) Any public or government intervention in the presupposition and implementation of any and all of principles (1) to (12) in any way is attacked as “an interference in the free market”. Any prior cultural, historical, or democratic achievement or institution limiting the systematically life-destructive effects of their unrestricted operation is deplored as “a distortion” or “impediment to market competition”, and targeted for elimination by transnational trade and investment instrument. This is a cumulative and always advancing line of demand by endless transnational regulatory “agreements”, and it moves across national borders and domains of life like a sustained military campaign in its relentless uniformity of prescriptions to target populations, and its blanket denials of the destructive effects which follow wherever its occupying forces usurp evolved ways of life.
(14 ) No autonomy of domestic market in any good or service, strategic use of any natural resource or necessity, protected public utility or social sector, product-safety, quality or licensing standard, local procurement practice or grant is consistent with the defined principles of this transnational market regime. All have been and continuously are, therefore, slated for challenge and irreversible elimination by trade prescription or scheduled regulatory assimilation. This is a pattern everywhere documentable, but concealed by corporately financed politicians, the corporate media, and former corporate employees who negotiate the agreements. What remains constant through the cumulative momentum and volume of trade and investment decrees is that every article of tens of thousands is constructed to guarantee that dominantly transnational corporations can exploit and increasingly control domestic economies and public sectors across the world with no curtailing limit permissible in law.
(15) Local, national and global management of the money-demand drivewheels of this system is over 95% controlled by for-profit corporate financial and banking institutions which have covertly appropriated control over almost all government bond issues and investor and consumer lines of credit from government currency creations, national bank loans and state statutory reserves. With no gold or other non-paper standard remaining to control it, corporate bank and financial leveraging has become effectively limitless, with central bank interest-rate raises in the new regime applied only to decrease workers’ rising wages and social-sector spending. This is the always hidden underside of the system’s propelling domestic and transnational force, why covert financial deregulation of money-demand supply is the secret to its every advance, and why no deep limit can be drawn against world occupation by corporate financial chicanery until the creation of money demand is constitutionally re-appropriated by public authority as its essential basis of sovereignty and investment in the common interest.
Together these underlying principles of
the global market system constitute its fixed and largely unseen meta-structure
of perception, understanding and judgement in accordance with which all its
policy formation and enforced regulation of societies and economies across the
world proceed. There is no principle of “the free market”, “investment”,
“competition”, “comparative advantage”, “efficiency”, “fiscal responsibility”,
“labour flexibility”, “inflation control”, “growth”, “sustainability”, “social
welfare”, “national prosperity”, “justice”, “civil society participation”,
“poverty reduction”, or other old or new slogan promulgated by global market
institutions and advocates that does not conform to all of (1) through (15) in
doctrine and effect. Whenever it is claimed otherwise,
ask for the evidence from any “free trade agreement” on the planet. The
response will always be silence, diversion to another topic, and, if the
question is pursued publicly, surveillance by the police.
However well-placed its hirelings, this mind-locked creed is corporately self-driven and self-referential, and threatens to usurp every level of social and ecological life condition still existing. Given its invasionary past and history, we should not be surprised. Like every Pharaoh of the past, it will topple - the more totalitarian, the more complete the collapse. But remember who advocates for this regime now, for they are agents of the corporate occupation of all of the world’s societies and ecosystems by decreed financial and market mechanisms never electorally agreed to by any people on earth.
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John McMurtry PhD. is a Professor of Philosophy at the
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