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How to work for Justice in the global economy, Part 8 in Understanding the Global Economy


Understanding the
Global Economy

Comprensión de la
economía mundial

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Update: 8/2/18  

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1. Be skeptical of so-called fiscal crises
2. Leave a party that turns neoliberal
3. Take economics seriously
4. Expose the weakness of theories
5. Challenge hypocrisy
6. Expose the masterminds
7. Maximize every obstacle
8. Strive to maintain solidarity
9. Don't compromise the labor movement
10. Maintain the concept of an
efficient public service
11. Encourage local leaders to
speak against injustice
12. Avoid anti-intellectualism
13. Establish a think-tank
14. Invest in the future
15. Support those who speak
against injustice
16. Promote ethical investment
17. Think globally, act locally
18. Think locally, act globally
19. Develop alternative news media
20. Raise the level of popular
economic literacy
21. Resist market-speak
22. Be realistic
23. Be proactive
24. Challenge "There's no alternative"(TINA)
25. Promote participatory democracy
26. Hold the line
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Instead of prefacing my advice with a statement of my theory, I will go straight to it. Instead of starting from scratch to answer the practical question, "What shall we do?" I will offer commentary on the excellent guide presented by economics Professor Jane Kelsey of Auckland University in New Zealand. Kelsey has written at length about how multinational corporations, backed by free market economic theory, have undermined the security of her country's people. From her scholarship and activist experiences, she has produced some practical guidelines for resistance and vigilance against the machinelike system. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has circulated her twenty-six tactics worldwide for the Gandhi Center for Policy Alternatives.1 With my commentary about her strategies, we present a path beyond what either could alone.

My aim is to show that in the light of the preceding theoretical efforts to understand the global economy, people can both support and improve practical efforts to change the global economy. Though it may not be apparent on the surface, underlying my comments on Jane Kelsey's guidelines is a search for positive cultural norms suitable for guiding the construction of an ethical global economy. In that search, help comes from four activist thinkers:

  • Gandhi, who proposed that those of us who own property regard ourselves as trustees. He viewed his own life as a series 2
  • Dr. King whose purpose, as he stressed, was to build the beloved community as an ideal community 3
  • Carol Gilligan who names and defines the ethics of care as attending to and responding to needs,4 and
  • Riane Eisler in relation the values and virtues of partnership.5
  • Here follow Professor Kelsey's twenty-six strategies that create justice in the global economy.

    1. Be skeptical about fiscal and other so-called crises

    Examine the real nature of the problem, who defines it as a crisis, and who stands to gain. Demand to know the range of possible solutions and the costs benefits of each and to whom. If the answers are not forthcoming, burn the midnight oil to produce the answers for yourselves.

    Comment: Forty years ago it was easy to believe that the countries of the world were moving in the direction of high wages, social security and high level social services for all. The Western European social democracies were thought to be models for everyone's eventual future. The reversal of the trends that made such optimism plausible has been marked by a series of crises, such as those characterized by oil price-shocks, un-payable debts and sudden currency devaluations. Such crises result from the constant structural problems, however, until a crisis, a government, or other actor will not acknowledge the structural problems, except as distorted by the interests of those who define the crisis. Dependency on oil, especially foreign, is a structural problem. Un-payable debt is a structural problem reflecting an even deeper one, which is the instability of capitalism. Keynes, typical of those who wrote economic theory for West European social democracies, proposed to remedy capitalism's instability by countercyclical spending. However, the cycles nearly always moved downward and ,therefore, it became obvious to all that some day the deficit spending to counter the cycles had to stop. Currency devaluations reflect the structural fact that not every nation can win in international economic competition.

    The existence of fundamental crises, as moments when structural problems can no longer be ignored, creates a climate where it is easy to manufacture bogus crisis. In any crisis — a real one, a bogus one, or a real one made bogus by exaggeration — the decisions made are likely unwise and biased in favor of those who have the most power to influence public opinion. It would be wise to avoid the crises altogether by reforming their deep structural causes beginning with dependence on fossil fuel,, capitalism and a global economy that is more competitive than cooperative.

    2. Don't cling to a party that becomes neoliberal

    Fighting to prevent the takeover of a social democratic party by right-wing zealots is important. But, once a party has been taken over, maintaining solidarity outside of it while seeking change within it only gives them more time. When the spirit of a party dies, shed the old skin and create something new.

    Comment: A political party is rarely in a position to transform society because its primary task is to seek votes. The party normally accepts as given that public opinion and the moneyed and other interests that shape public opinion are as they are. Even if a party advocating socialism or other form of social transformation achieves control of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, it is still not in a position to transform society.

    The national government is essential to the modern world-system as government protects property as it encourages business and creates conditions for growth of prosperity by helping the capitalist system run well. Each state helps the entrepreneurs of its nation succeed in international economic competition. The first national government, The Netherlands in the 17th century, set the pattern by which most national governments have since conformed. Jane Kelsey points out the importance of withdrawing our support and involvement from parties that chime in as neoliberal, because people need political parties that advocate real alternatives. Parties can be educational and can exercise some degree of political influence, nevertheless, we should not expect much from and rely on political parties or government. Neither will be able to implement workable alternatives without the support of social movements and people leading the way.

    3. Take economics seriously

    Neoliberal economic fundamentalism pervades within everything. There is no boundary between the economic, social, environmental, or other policies. Those who focus on the narrow concerns and ignore the pervasive economic agenda will lose their own battles and weaken the collective ability to resist. Leaving economics to economists alone is often fatal.

    Comment: Economics is not a science that we can apply universally like chemistry. Economics is not even a general science of human society, such as anthropology, which attempts to study all forms of culture. The data of economics come mainly from accounting and bookkeeping because the models of economics apply mainly in the function of accountants and bookkeepers. Instead of saying that every society has an economic base, we should say that every culture has an ecological context. The general science of humanity's interaction with the Earth and other living systems is ecology as bionomics, not economics. Culture is the overall survival strategy for Homo sapiens, its ecological niche. Economic society is a special form of culture.

    We have to take economics seriously because it is a basic cultural structure of current societies. If, with Wallerstein's modern world-system, we hold that today we have one society, the global, then economics is basic because it administers to our shared needs. It determines or is an ideological reflection of the structures that determine who eats and who does not. Even the problems that seem unrelated to economics, such as ones motivated by ethnic hatred in the massacres of Bosnia and Rwanda, do have an economic aspect. An economic solution is requisite for a viable solution to all social issues, even if the issue seems at first unrelated to economics. Ultimately, however, no economic solutions exist, because solutions come only from a broader vision, which sees economics as a part of culture, which is a part of ecology. That is why leaving economics to economists alone is often folly and sometimes fatal.

    4. Expose the weaknesses of their theory

    Neoliberal theories are riddled with dubious assumptions and internal inconsistencies and often lack empirical support. These right-wing [market-driven] theories need to be exposed as serving rationalizations that operate in the interests of the elites to whom the policies empower.

    Comment: (The term neoliberal is used worldwide for the ideology known as conservative in the United States.) Exposing the faulty assumptions and internal inconsistencies of free market economics must go hand in hand with building alternative communities and cooperatives. Mainstream economics is the ideology of mainstream institutions. Though the shelves of university libraries have many books that refute it, economics remains part of the dominant ideology as the standard doctrine taught in most introductory economics courses. Although it has, many times, been shown to be false, the dominant economics is assumed to be valid in TV news analyses and in newspaper editorials. Practitioners of neoliberal economics, as a rule, do not take the time to reply to their academic critics. They do not need to because they have power and, therefore, spend their time running governments, corporations, media and the international agencies.

    It is vital that we create alternative communities, cooperatives and nonprofits that function with principles different than those of free market economics. Post-economic living proves in practice what the books on university library shelves prove only in theory.

    5. Challenge hypocrisy!

    Find out who is promoting a strategy as being in the national interest (so-called) and who stands to benefit most. Document cases where self-interest is disguised as public good.

    Comment: It is a plain fact that when high taxes force business closures, employees lose their jobs. Therefore, it is inevitable that when the government fixes prices so low that bigger profits occur elsewhere, then production falls and with it employment opportunities. It is nearly always true that business cannot exist without profit and the loss of business means the loss of jobs.

    Moneyed interests, expressed as self-interest, assert that what is in their interest is in the national interest. Their hypocritical assertions are convincing and in part true, although, more than arguments, they are power-laden dictums. A capitalist's investment does produce goods, render services and create jobs and incomes that governments can tax.

    Capital, however, is not above coercive bluffing as its advocates threaten dire consequences if wages rise, profits are taxed and  safety or environmental regulations are passed and enforced. Although in fact, when the pay raises, tax increases and enforcement of those do occur then capital adjusts and the dire consequences usually do not appear, The threat behind the fear that underlies greed does, nevertheless, have some validity and at times the dire consequences do occur.

    Therefore, when we challenge hypocrisy we should also challenge power at the level of the quasi-mechanism through which it operates. The way to disarm economic power is to build alternatives so that 1) business and jobs will no longer need profit and 2) societies will not need to offer incentives to investors to produce goods, render services, create jobs and join for the common good.

    6. Expose the masterminds

    Identify the key corporate players behind the scenes, document their interlocking roles and allegiances and expose the personal and corporate benefits they receive.

    Comment: Identifying individuals helps to unmask the true nature and intentions of a movement. For example, in Italy during the 1920s Olivetti was secretly funding Mussolini. Meanwhile, like many opportunists, Mussolini said whatever he thought would please multitudes. He spoke in favor of John Dewey's progressive philosophy of education and once even spoke for feminism. The consequences of Mussolini coming to power could have been predicted by studying whom his backers were rather than by listening to what he said.

    On the other hand, it is generally not true that using a discourse that traces the economic benefits a particular people pursue can solve social problems. The principal causes of poverty and insecurity are deep cultural structures. Therefore, the faulty assumption that individuals are and always will be a vicious automata of egoism is unfair, misleading and, worse, contributes to the problem. The reality of the human condition is that we are all actors on a stage we did not make. As children we learned to play the roles society prescribed for us. Those of us who are trying to improve society must work to improve 1) the roles that society defines and 2) its assumptions about human nature. Behavior in high places will improve when society defines humanity in ways that bring out the best in all people.

    The liberation theology of Latin America (and elsewhere to some extent) has an apt way to express the need to hold people accountable for their actions and to call people to act according to higher standards. The la buena nueva, the good news encompasses both denunciar, which is denouncing evil and anunciar, which announces the coming of a better world. As the Jewish Yom Kippur liturgy puts it, "If you do not both praise and revile, then I have created you in vain, sayeth the Lord."

    7. Maximize every obstacle

    Federal systems of government, written constitutions, legal requirements and regulations, supranational institutions such as the ILO and the UN and strong local governments can act as barriers, which slow down the pace of the corporate takeover.

    Comment: The corporate takeover is a recent version of the relentless pursuit of profit that Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations depicted with a water metaphor in which money flows into profitable channels of trade as water flows downhill. Expanding on Smith's hydraulic images, we can make a caricature of the neoliberal global corporate takeover by saying that the pursuit of profit by self-interested individuals is like a never-ending flood. The forces of the market are like rain that never stops. Whatever obstacles stand in the way, such as federal and other regulations, written constitutions, legal requirements and ILO standards are not enough. The water seeps through, soaks, flows around, submerges and washes away.

    According to the metaphysics of neoliberal economics, market forces are natural, like water and whatever impedes them is artificial. The barriers that inhibit them from flowing toward profits are like dams and because the rains never stop, no dam will last. As we counter-strategize by maximizing every obstacle to slow down the corporate takeover, we can do something more humane as well. We can cooperate on a nonprofit basis to meet each other's needs. New light dawns, the rain stops, the floodwaters recede.

    8. Strive to maintain solidarity

    Avoid the trap of divide and rule. Infighting is self-indulgent and everyone risks losing in the end.

    Comment: It is hard to maintain solidarity because people who have everything to gain from solidarity often dropout and divide over social issues such as religion, sexual morality, abortion, homosexuality, generation gaps, race, gender, ethnicity, the unforgiving of past wrongs, language, addictions and mental illness.

    I will explain addictions and mental illness because we seldom think of them as issues that divide social movements. It seems impossible to organize a mass movement (at least here in Southern California) without including people who suffer from mental illness: depression, alcoholism, bitter unresolved divorces, odd beliefs, delusions, sexual obsessions, chronic irresponsibility, self-destructive behavior, control obsession, deep anger and desperate loneliness. A solidarity movement limited to those who are unquestionably sane cannot be a mass movement. It will always be a minority movement.

    Mental health issues put solidarity in jeopardy because people with sound mental health, as a rule, do not feel obliged to stay in organizations where they have to cope with the foibles of people afflicted by acute neurosis and borderline psychosis. The crucial aspect as it relates to movement solidarity, is that people who suffer mental illness find it difficult to bond with other people and to work in solidarity with others for a common cause.

    Given the standard divisive social issues (religion, etc.) and given the two I have added, I conclude that it is not possible to achieve a high degree of solidarity in heterogeneous groups. It was a theoretical illusion: Homo economicus that created the parallel illusion that a mass solidarity movement could take political power and build socialism. Real people, whatever their economic interests, cannot achieve cohesion without sharing values. The exception proves the rule in communities such as the one I live in, where our love of diversity is a value that we share. It follows that the only way to achieve solidarity on a large scale and across social barriers, is to form coalitions that combine the powers of many grassroots face-to-face groups, each of which meets the need to-belong of a more-or-less homogeneous type of person.

    The role of intellectual leadership, therefore, is essential. To maintain solidarity, people need to step forward to organize their group into broad functional coalitions with people that the group would not like nor agree with if they got to know them well.

    Solidarity becomes easier when it is thought of as concentric levels of commitment or, as Nel Noddings puts it, concentric circles of caring. It is futile for one person to try to be in complete solidarity with all humanity and all the animals and plants that share the Earth with us. It is, however, a practical possibility for one person to be in complete solidarity with a lover or a family and near complete solidarity with a circle of friends.

    Picture a family, then that family in a loving community that is larger than a family. Step-by-step, build on the elements of solidarity that exist wherever they are and in the language they express. After much trial and error, we might be able to achieve the goal announced by the slogan: Workers of the world, unite! We can achieve solidarity wherever we are and it can happen now as it begins through understanding.

    9. Do not compromise the labor movement

    Build awareness of the corporate agenda at the union local and the workplace levels. Resist concessions that tend to deepen co-optation and weaken the ability of unions to fight back.

    Comment: I will proceed with the following proposals:1) make a general suggestion about how to build a strong labor union, which is drawn from my experience with Cesar Chavez, 2) argue that labor unions alone cannot transform the global economy, 3) state reasons why unions are crucial, though not enough. When asked how he organized the union Cesar Chavez answered, "First I organized one person and then another and another and another and then another."

    1. When he and a few others started organizing in the Central Valley of California, they first listened to whatever farm workers wanted to desahogar (share from their heart). They found that many were afraid they would die an unknown death, without a funeral and no one to mourn. Therefore, Chavez found and used a method from the first working people's associations in Europe. So, the first promise the new union made was to honor each deceased member with a funeral. Though this is just a bit of the profound work of Chavez, I think it is enough to lead up to the general suggestion that I want to make, which is that the solidarity needed to solve economic problems will come largely from non-economic motives.

    2. Labor unions alone cannot transform the global economy. Unions do not produce any goods or services (except the services within the union for members). They produce no food, housing, clothing, medical attention, or childcare. Their ultimate tool is the strike: the action of refusing to work, but it is stop-power, not go-power. Therefore, the strike, in principle and for structural reasons, is a weak tool. Refusal to work is always subject to the risk that someone else will be hired, or the risk that the business will close or move. Moreover, even if conditions look as though using the strike might succeed, labor has to use it sparingly. Shutting down business may offend business and government, but it may alienate the public too, which is the structural trap that limits the labor movement. The transformation of the economy requires the transformation of go-power because it will not happen with stop-power alone.

    A traditional split of opinion exists in the labor movement between those who favor unions as 1) allied with socialist parties that aim to deliver control of the means of production to the working class and 2) focused on wages, benefits and work rules in business enterprises working people will never own or control. In that split, I advocate the former, which is union action as complementary to political action.

    I concluded earlier that political parties cannot transform the global economy, even if they take power, because national governments (alone or in concert) cannot transform. For that reason, neither unions nor the two in concert can transform the global economy's structure. Union violence and any violence has the success odds of the proverbial snowball in hell. The great reform needs a galvanizing more toward critical mass of what I call the culture of solidarity.

    3. One might ask then, whether labor unions are unnecessary or insufficient. If the global economy can reform at all, perhaps it can transform without labor unions. That is impossible, because unions (except the corrupt ones) augment the power of working people. A world where the masses of working people become increasingly powerless would not be a scenario where social transformation could occur. Only the empowerment of the people through many forms, which includes labor unions, will bring about the conditions for transformation.

    Collective bargaining is the contract tool in which the workers in mediated process with the owners reach consensus. Collective bargaining is the good-faith, win-win alternative and, as such, it is a positive cultural transformation in which the union contract embodies respect, which is not just about wages. Collective bargaining is about human rights in the workplace and it is about replacing arbitrary power with social norms and with grievance procedures for the adjudication and enforcement of the norms. Neither the norms nor the procedures are perfect and improvement is not always possible. Even so, it is a step forward in principle to establish procedures for governing relationships in the workplace (or anywhere else) according to a pattern of standards and an ethic. Both the standards and the ethic seek a policy to consider everyone's needs and rights away from the rule of force and the rule of the quasi-force of the quasi-machine. It is an economy that creates a world where human beings cooperate to meet needs in mutual respect.

    10. Maintain the concept of an efficient public service

    Resist attempts to discredit and dismantle the public sector by admitting its deficiencies and promoting constructive models to change it. Build support among client groups and the public that stress the need for public services and the risks of cutting or privatizing them.

    Comment: Efficient public service needs protection because it is a concept under attack by some who deny the validity of it. They do not criticize government program X or Y for being inefficient, but instead they attack the very notion of efficient public service.

    The notion that governments are always and unavoidably inefficient is a metaphysical proposition. It is, however, a proposition that acquired an aura of plausibility through reports of specific case studies. For example, P. T. Bauer, a leading antigovernment, pro-market writer, reports that government programs in India that were supposed to help the poor, in fact, wasted time and favored the middle class. Farmers, for example, spent their time currying favor with government officials and going to political meetings, instead of farming. Those who received the benefits of the programs were not the poorest. They evaded standard means testing, even if that existed, because they could: 1) afford to offer bribes and quasi-bribes, 2) find time to develop contacts, learn the art of grant writing and 3) negotiate through the official procedures required to obtain a share of the government's largesse.

    Similar horror stories about failures of planning in, for example, the Soviet Union may even prove that the planning model is always wrong and the market model always right.

    The metaphysical proof that an efficient public service is a contradiction in terms advances by defining efficiency in such a way that only a free, competitive market can be efficient. The price fixed by such a market reflects, by definition, an optimal allocation of society's resources. Other criteria for allocating resources are, in principle, inefficient.

    From this argument it follows that if modern public institutions are inefficient, then so too are humanity's older institutions, such as family kinship and religion. Therefore, the label of inefficient includes all the innovative modern institutions, such as cooperatives, nonprofit organizations, charitable foundations volunteer agencies, intentional communities, neighborhood associations and fraternal lodges. All these institutions are inefficient insofar as they operate, by their purpose, according to an ethic that diverges from the norms that govern rational behavior in a free competitive market.

    A more convincing metaphysical argument supports the opposite conclusion that public service (and other institutions responsive to ethical criteria that override market rationality) may be efficient, however, a free competitive market is never efficient. The argument starts with the standard definition of the term efficient, which is achieving the objective at the least cost or to a higher degree at the same cost. Next, it defines the objective, which is fulfilling the physical and spiritual needs of humanity within the sustainable parameters of cooperation with the Earth's living systems. Based on these plausible definitions, it follows that, in principle, the notion of an efficient free-competitive market is a mistaken one. In such markets, money and the self-interested decisions of economic actors always intervene between the objective and its achievement. The real measure of efficiency in achieving the objective that is meeting needs long term does not necessarily coincide with any of the outcomes that the actors in the market seek, i.e. not with the goal of maximizing money returns for self-interested actors. Efficiency is not a market requirement because, in fact, the market does better without efficiency. At least three reasons exist for this conclusion:

    Therefore, it follows that public service, or any enterprise or institution that takes meeting real needs as its objective, has a chance, at least, to be efficient. In contrast, the concept of an efficient free competitive market is a contradiction in terms.

    What should we say about the historical experiences with inefficient public service, which lend empirical support to the false generalization that government is never efficient? We should say that those experiences are the many reasons to maintain the concept of an efficient public service by admitting its deficiencies and promoting constructive models for change. Of course, we should recognize that the inherent inefficiency of markets does not imply that we should go to the extreme of trying to build a world with no markets at all.

    Further inspiration comes from emphasizing the positive. For example, biologists find that the single most important factor explaining the increased longevity in recent centuries is improved public health programs, which means cleaner water, better treatment of sewage, control of infectious diseases, etc. The physical fact is that people now live longer because of the alliance between science and efficient public service.

    11. Encourage local leaders to speak out against injustice

    Public criticism from civic and church leaders, folk heroes, and other prominent names makes corporate and political leaders uncomfortable, while it makes people think. Remind community leaders of their social obligations and the need to preserve their own self-respect.

    Comment: When the consequences of globalization violate the widely shared humanitarian values, the conscience of the people as expressed by community leaders of various kinds is a viable path of the resistance. An ad hoc protest coalition will, therefore, emerge and it might well become part of a global social transformation movement. This movement can transform the world system, though only through a diverse alliance whose members may not even share a similar ideology.

    Community leaders will, however, likely not speak with the voices of those who encourage and urge them, but instead with their own voices, for example

  • a priest will reflect some version of the social teachings of his sect, modified by his prayers and reflections
  • ethnic, tribal and racial leaders will speak from the matrix of their communal identities
  • economic interest groups will usually argue their particular short term interest is compatible with the long term common good and
  • a woman may speak on behalf of women and she may express a view about some other dimension of her participation in society.
  • This point applies to the others, as well, because most people have multiple group affiliations. If an ad hoc protest coalition has no common philosophy, each community leader will speak in will speak in the leader's own voice and not speak in the consensus voice expressing the goals and the values of a unified global movement, which will transform the bigger culture devoid as it is of substantive solidarity.

    For Plato and many others, ancient and modern, Western and non-Western, it was obvious that to transform society, cooperation and, thus, shared values would be requisites. Plato's ideal city created a unity with one shared philosophy. Similarly, Marx perceived as obvious that the working people should unite in practice through sharing in the mentality of a common socialist ideology.

    The political ideology of liberalism disagrees with the unity of mind approach, but instead sees a variety of voices in an ad hoc protest-coalition as an asset, not a liability. Liberalism views as suspect the fact that people speak via community leaders rather than for themselves. This, they see, as a sign that there may be too much conformity because, according to liberalism, each person should think and act independently.

    I believe that Plato and Marx had good reasons for seeking the shared values and a common voice through ideology. On the other hand, liberals also have good reasons to mistrust that and, therefore, liberals seek diversity of thought. I hope that it will be possible to transform the global economy through unity-in-diversity.

    We can adopt the idea of the classical anthropologists that cultures are largely diverse adaptations to diverse environments. We can think of the global economy as having certain features of modern European culture writ large, which is a European economics expanded to a global scale. Then, we can see the global economic transformation as a cultural conversion as it will be our adaptation to one environment, which is the Earth.

    A transformation of culture need not, nor does it always, proceed by adopting a single coherent philosophy, a belief system or a religion, because diverse perceptions can function as equivalents. What people do is more important than what they think and say. Therefore, a harmony of action need not require a unity of thought. The social conflicts that prevent successful adaptation to the physical environment might resolve although contingent on occasion, place, kinds and classes of people, personalities and languages.

    Nonetheless, humanity will benefit from more unity and bonding than it has now. We need community and, beyond that, we need resonance across community boundaries that help us to feel the common human energies that fuel diverse cultural forms. Those who work for global transformation need to capture a variety of positive energies; we need to share the vision of a multi-cultural world.

    As we build community and network with others, we

  • celebrate both diversity and homogeneity
  • treasure the shared values that exist in the world
  • help the vision grow in the appreciation of diversity and
  • encourage shared values as ecumenical. This does not mean everyone should be a Buddhist, though it is an asset for all humanity that like-minded Buddhists exist who understand each other's spirituality and act in unity. Empowerment thrives wherever there is vigorous trust, shared norms and beliefs, sacred rites and story, ethnic identity and  solidarity. Wherever empowerment thrives so too does the capacity for resisting and transforming the global economy.
  • 12. Avoid anti-intellectualism

    An absolutely vital resource for the movement is a pool of academics and other intellectuals who can 1) document and expose the fallacies and failures of the corporate agenda and 2) develop viable alternatives in partnership with community and groups. Our resource pool needs our support when they come under attack. They need us to challenge them when they fail to speak out, are co-opted, or seduced by power.

    Comment: The people's movement, as conceived to make the world work for all humans without ecological damage, should avoid anti-intellectualism because the movement must have the intellectual capacity to enable the:

    1. Technical expertise for the transformation of the economy, which can occur only with the input of people who know how to make technologies work. In this respect, as information resources, intellectuals have more tangible power than do capitalists because the expertise of intellectuals is a requirement of production, while the rights of owners depend on legal fictions. Against this point #1 is the contention that those who wait for technical experts to make common cause with the people will wait in vain because a) most technical experts are not intellectuals and b) most intellectuals support the status quo.

    Rebuttal to those contentions is that technical expertise (a) does lead to a general intellectual culture insofar as it 1) requires mathematical reasoning and the logical use of language and 2) leads to greater innovation at the higher levels of technology where creativity, philosophical reflection and the interplay of disciplines occur in an intellectual culture, which is universal, will lead to a committed participation in practices that transform cultural structures as competent thinkers become more aware of our headlong course toward calamity.

    2. Humanitarian conceptualizing, which is the intellectual capacity to facilitate the evolution of social norms toward more solidarity and cooperation. If moral evolution is possible and necessary, then the intellectuals must facilitate its accomplishment. It will not be easy or automatic because it will require humanitarian understanding across cultures and faiths, psychological and spiritual study and practice and artistry.

    The need for more cooperation does not mean an end to healthy, creative competition. Even Gandhi played soccer with a team called the Pretoria Passive Resisters. Similarly, Dr. King enjoyed pillow fights in the spirit of a shared release from the climate of nearly constant oppression.

    Although I do not object to Jane Kelsey's phrase corporate agenda, I would not use it. My emphasis is on the deep structural causes of human problems. Therefore, it may distract us to single out a group as impeding progress in favor of regress.

    13. Establish a think-tank

    If one exists in your community, make sure it has adequate funds. Neoliberal think tanks have shown how the well-financed institutes on the right rationalize and legitimize the corporate agenda. The need for one or more well-funded think tanks on the progressive left is obvious. Uncoordinated research by isolated critics will not suffice.

    Comment: Because cultural structures need reform, no substitute exists for grassroots action projects in which norms and values transform from an old paradigm into a new one. With that basis known, the vital role of progressive think tanks will reflect it. Having worked within two of them, I see their main limitations to be that

    1. their survival depends upon funding, which is always precarious
    2. obtaining funds takes much time and energy seeking the favor of moneyed interests and
    3. legal restrictions that often prevent close links with political parties, unions, churches, social movements, cooperatives and self-help groups.

    In addition to think tanks, support must emerge for other ways to build the intellectual infrastructure for creating the appropriate global economy. This would include a system of sharing tasks among tenured academics with salaries. Jane Kelsey likely has in mind the systematic dissemination of ideas that would reply directly to the intellectual products of the World Bank, the IMF, Ministries of Planning Institutes of Strategic Studies and well-funded neoliberal think tanks.

    14. Invest in the future

    Provide financial, human and moral support to sustain the publications, alternative analysis, think tanks and the projects of people who are active in resistance to the corporate agenda and work for progressive change.

    Comment "Help! I do not have any discretionary money, I can barely keep up with paying my bills and my taxes." The philanthropists who give to progressive causes are overwhelmed with valid calls for funding. What can people in my position do? We can 1) organize productive communities such as Gandhi's ashrams, which generate food, other necessities and money to depend less on donations and 2) reduce our personal expenditures, simplify our lives doing more with less thus, giving more time and money for the good of humanity.

    15. Support those who speak out

    The harassment and intimidation of the critics of the corporate takeover is effective only if those attacked do not have our personal, popular and institutional support. Our withdrawing from public debate leaves those who remain in the debate more exposed.

    Comment: Speak in support of other people's good work. Building community requires food, music and praise. For every protest, we might well find an award for every participant by recognizing the outstanding service of each of us and by sharing our interpersonal gratitude and appreciation as an interpersonal giving.

    16. Promote ethical investment

    Support investors who genuinely respond to social and ecological concerns. Expose the unethical investors who don't respond. Boycotts have proven to be a powerful force in environmental, antinuclear and safe product campaigns. Companies that ignore social and environmental concerns can be embarrassed and called to account.

    Comment: What we need to reform are the cultural structures that are riddled with conventional norms. Therefore, it does not help when workers or government take over businesses and operate them with the same norms and corruption. But, It does help when people in positions of influence in business use their power to persuade and reform behavior to higher ethical standards.

    17. Think globally, act locally

    Develop an understanding of the global nature of economic power and those forces that are driving the current trends. Draw the links between these global forces and local events. Target the meetings and activities of your local representatives that feed into the global economic machine.

    Comment: I can act close to home to begin a global structural transformation starting with just one act. If I keep one promise to meet a need for someone not because it is in my self-interest to do so, but instead because I pledged to, then I am making (at least) one person a bit more secure because that person can count on a someone else, in this case me. Therefore, I undo the damage done by the global market economy, which, in principle, makes people insecure because people's needs remain un-met without the help of others. No one motivated purely by market incentives will do anything to meet others needs unless their self-interest dictates that they do so.

    I can act close to home by starting with a connection to just one person. If I can establish solidarity with one person, then the two of us are outside the market. Suppose that we are part of a family or, if you will, a surrogate family, which is part of a kinship system, tribe, or its equivalent. The process continues with people in different types of alliances, such as families, unions, cooperatives, towns, nations etc. providing different degrees and types of support for one another. Then it becomes clear that what began in the neighborhood was a change of principle that transformed the global economy.

    18. Think locally, act globally

    Actively support international strategies for change, such as people's tribunals, NGO forums on codes of conduct and campaigns against unethical corporate practices. Recognize the fact that international action is vital to counter the collaboration of states and corporations and to empower civil society to take back control.

    Comment: With the help of the Internet, progressive organizations are catching up with the domination agenda of the global business. It is easy to subscribe to list groups and visit web sites that will keep you current with what you can do to act globally.

    19. Develop an alternative news media

    Once mainstream media are captured by the right [neoliberal] it is difficult for critics to enter the debate and impossible to lead it. Alternative media and innovative strategies must emerge. Effective communication and exchange of information between various groups and activists are essential, despite the time and resources involved.

    Comment: To the extent I can, I try to support people who run alternative publications, alternative radio and public access TV. Radio micro-broadcasting plays an important role in communities and needs more support. The Samizdat, the tiny publications that played such an important role in the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, includes local church bulletins, which people tend to read and trust because they interact with the authors. The following suggests that messages people read and repeat, at a low cost, will become widespread.

    Suppose I send a personal newsletter to 100 of my friends with a justice message that bears repeating. They, in turn, send a similar message to 100 of their friends. Therefore, not counting repeats to the same people I wrote to, that would reach ten-thousand people. When the pattern recurs 3, it reaches one million, then a hundred million, then ten billion people, exceeding the human population.

    The assumption that each recipient will in turn send one hundred messages to new people, nevertheless, is false. I think this calculation has some tendency to show that if I send out a message that people in general find worth passing on, then the message is likely to become widespread. Therefore, when you send a message accompany it with a request to circulate it.

    20. Raise the level of popular economic literacy

    Familiarize people with the basic themes, assumptions and goals of economic fundamentalism. Convince them that 1) economic policy affects everyone 2) that everyone has a right to participate and 3) that alternatives to the corporate agenda do exist.

    Comment: Raising popular economic literacy succeeds apropos to current events. When reporting current events, the mainstream media make the neoliberal assumptions of comparative advantage economics, such as whatever price the market fixes is natural and right and that a free market will meet everyone's needs. If, through the alternative media as advocated in guideline #19, it is possible to comment publicly on current events, then alternative interpretations of events can introduce alternative philosophical principles.

    21. Resist market-speak

    Maintain control of the language and challenge its capture by the neoliberal right-wing. Refuse to convert your discourse to theirs. Insist on using specific terms that convey the hard realities of what is going on.

    Comment: Market-speak treats an abstract number that represents profit as the bottom line. Real bottom lines have some physical or spiritual substance, for example a tree that bears fruit, a loaf of good bread, a drink of clean water and someone who cares about you.

    22. Be realistic

    Recognize that the world has changed, to some extent irreversibly and that the past was far from perfect. Avoid being trapped solely into reacting and defending the status quo. Defending the past for its intrinsic value adds credibility to the claims of the right and wastes opportunities for genuine change.

    Comment: Several reasons explain the global sea change since 1973, or so, in favor of the neoliberal market economies and as a stance against planning, labor unions and the welfare safety net. This policy position is due to the ongoing market to profit processes, which are the basic causal mechanisms that have governed the global economy since its inception in the 16th century. The principal method that works for justice in the global economy, therefore, is our concerted effort toward replacing those basic causal mechanisms. The principal method for replacing them is to build alternatives that work, which are ones that succeed in producing and distributing food, housing the homeless, caring for the sick and educating the poor equitably.

    23. Be proactive

    Start rethinking visions, strategies and models of development for the future. Show that there are workable, preferable alternatives from the start. This becomes progressively more difficult the longer you wait to respond to the corporate agenda.

    Comment: The only way I can show the reality of the workable, preferable alternative is to join a group. Alone I might be able to read books about alternatives, or even write one. Alone, however, I cannot demonstrate the workable alternative. If the group's purpose is to prove the veracity of workable, preferable alternatives, then the group needs to be a model of the alternative. Nobody will believe us when we say, "The world could function otherwise" even while we cannot manage our lives otherwise. Lasting leadership is always leading by example.

    24. Challenge "There is no alternative" (TINA)

    Convince people—as individuals and groups—that the workable alternatives have long been in use, though obscured by the economy that does not work. Present options that combine realism with the prospect of meaningful change. Actively promote these alternatives and have them ready to implement when the corporate agenda fails.

    Comment: One scenario where it might seem that there is no alternative is a national debt crisis in which a nation cannot make current payments on its debts. No one accepts payment in the nation's currency, thus, only dollars or hard European money will do. The nation's airports, its port facilities, its gold reserves and other tangible assets have been mortgaged as security for its debts. It appears that the only course is signing a letter of intent with the IMF to receive funds and a reprieve conditioned upon accepting the principles of neoliberal philosophy. In practical terms, this means reducing public services  freezing wages and hiring producing for export and making the nation more dependent upon the global market.

    Such a situation backs the progressive intellectual into a corner. Does a progressive propose turning the world overnight into a socialist commonwealth that does not use money and that the nations close their borders and go it alone? Do I have advice for the leader of a third world country whose debt payment cannot be refinanced, which the IMF will soon foreclose? I take cold comfort in treating this TINA scenario as proof of my theory, which I read to say, "I have long said that if you played by your rules of global capitalism, it would come to this. Still, you would not listen. Now will you listen? Now are you ready to play a sustainable game with rules fair for everyone?"

    Yet, just what would I say to President Arias of Costa Rica when the New York bankers are knocking on his door and the IMF sends a rescue mission? I would say, "I do not know what would persuade the bankers and the IMF to give Costa Rica some leeway, though I am sure you will negotiate the best deal you can get under the circumstances." Then, if the President's interest in philosophy were only moderate, I would suggest that he encourage self-reliant community development, permaculture and the use of sustainable technologies as feasible steps in the direction of reducing the probability of another TINA situation arising in the future. If he seemed at all open to the idea, I would suggest that he threaten bankruptcy and, if necessary, carry it out to invoke the ancient biblical principle of jubilee, which is the cancellation of debts to reorganize and begin anew.

    25. Promote participatory democracy

    Build a constituency for change through alternative information networks and media. Use community, workplace, women's, church, union, First Nations and other outlets to encourage people to take back control. Empower us with the knowledge we need to understand 1) the right-wing neoliberal forces affecting us and 2) how we can fight back most effectively.

    Comment: Let us call it participatory social democracy. My motive for adding the word social is to emphasize the creation of what Riane Eisler calls partnership relationships that facilitate cooperative work to meet needs implicit in participation as being part of one another and democracy, which is rule by the people. The word societas, from which the English word social comes, is the Latin word for partnership. My second motive is to build a social safety net for all citizens. Social democracy is the general name for a progressive political trend, which was, within its limitations, in many countries around the world, building the social safety net for all citizens before it was dismantled by the present neoliberal trend.

    The practice of participatory social democracy, which is partnership at grassroots levels, builds political influence at higher levels. When the tide of free market ideology begins to recede and social democracy reasserts itself as the politics of the future, civil society will be greener, stronger and happier. Social democracy at the national and global levels, therefore, will take hold sooner and work better.

    Partnership relationships often take the expression of the ancient pre-capitalist meaning of the word as its real meaning, before market individualism debased it. Thus, we can return to

  • a real community (koinonia: Gk, communitas L, gemeinschaft G) is one where there is common property, in addition to private property
  • a real workplace (ergon Gk) is a place to perform vital social functions, such as the work of providing food, or the work of providing medical attention
  • mater L., mother, which has the roots of material and matrix (womb) and suggests that the substance and source of life is feminine.
  • a church, to be a real church, should be an ecclesia (Gk and L), a gathering like the house churches in The Acts of the Apostles where the members bear one another's burdens.
  • a union (from unitas, oneness, vereinigung and bund in German) makes one of many and
  • the First Nations, who often have words reflecting ancient traditions of respect for the land, for animals and plants and for other people. The Qheswa people of Andes Mountains bio-region have the expression ayni ruway, which means that social relationships serve as pacts of the mutual support of solidarity.
  • Participatory social democracy can provide solutions to the everyday problems of the participants, such as where to find a baby-sitter, how to secure transport of an elder to the hospital, and how to find food and lodging for those denied employment. As Gandhi said, "Love, as the law of our species, can grow by our practice of it."

    26. Hold the line

    The corporate takeover is not yet complete. Social programs have not yet been entirely dismantled. Labor unions have not yet been destroyed. Not all environmental protections have been eliminated. There is still enough time, through a sustained and coordinated action, to hold the line.

    Comment: The forces that are rolling back the gains made by social democracy in the middle decades of the twentieth century have their roots in the basic cultural structures of modernity, i.e. in market relationships. Welfare states using Keynesian social accounting to macro-manage the economy were limited in scope and life-span as they met the limits imposed by the very structure of the global capitalist economy. The main limits include un-payable debt, bureaucratic inefficiency, individualist ethics, a tendency for the rate growth to falter and the power of capital to relocate.

    Furthermore, even in the best-case scenario of a New Zealand style social democracy that is sustained indefinitely and into the rest of the world—still, it is physically impossible. The Earth cannot bear the resource-intensive standards of living of the cars, the freestanding houses and the glut of consumer goods attained by the middle masses, who are the primary beneficiaries of 20th century macro-managed economies.

    As we hold the line, we should cut off the forces of neoliberalism at their roots. To use another metaphor, the forces that are rolling back labor gains (and environmental gains) must dissolve through our vigilant green cleansing. We can accomplish this by reviving old ways of life and creating new ways of life governed by ethical principles of solidarity.

    For the future, more than one viable ethic is available to us, and it may be that solidarity is too general name for the ethics of care, love, empowerment and ministry. Spiritual enlightenment might have been better, as a phrase. Worldwide, people have many cooperative practices, ways of talking about them and celebrating them. Similarly, many old and new alternative technologies exist. Together, they make people less dependent on capital and, therefore, less subservient to it, better able to regulate it, govern it, socialize it and channel it toward constructive ends.


    1. New Zealand, a response to the New Zealand Government's paper to the Social Development Summit, Copenhagen, March 1995. Wellington, New Zealand: Association of NGO of Aotearoa, 1995. Jane Kelsey, The New Zealand Experiment: a World Model for Structural Adjustment?  Auckland University Press, 1997

    2. Gandhi's ideas of trusteeship and of service have expression in his words in the UNESCO compilation of his writings published as M. K. Gandhi, All Men are Brothers, New York: Columbia University Press, 1969

    3. Dr. King's use of the idea of beloved community see John Ansbro, Martin Luther King, Jr.: the Making of a Mind, Maryknol, NY: Orbis Press, 1982

    4. Carol Gilligan's findings, please see note 35 in Part IX, below.

    5. Riane Eisler's idea of partnership see her "Women, Men, and Management: Redesigning our Future," in Pat Barrentine, editor When the Canary Stops Singing: Women's Perspectives on Transforming Business. San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1993


    1. As you see it, what central concept do each of the foremost activist writers, from whom the author tests his understanding, share as common ground? p. 173 through p. 179

    b. Why do you think the concept becomes increasingly more important?

    c. What factors stand out, in your view, as preventing or inhibiting the key concept?

    d. What main factor do you see as insuring the reemergence and prevalence of the key?

    2. What economic issue do you see as the classic example and most extreme case in which the so-called crises beyond human control turned out to be the failure of the human spirit that is willingness, in particular, those who determine policy and control resources?  p. 159

    b. Does a simple means of prevention of and remedy for a real economic crisis seem apparent to you?

    3. What historical roots of the neoliberal trend in economic political ideology and platform do you recognize?  p. 159

    b. In your view, what does neoliberal trend from the past mean vis-a-vis the growth of the dominant economic worldview? p. 160

    c. Do you consider the evolved systems of governments, especially in Europe, as compatible with the archaic economic paradigm, which still prevails, though to a lesser degree, in Europe?

    1. Discuss how you view the European Union in terms of a metaphysical shift to a new economic paradigm.

    d. Which nation's governments are most congruent with the neoliberal economics, in your view?

    4. As you see it, why is the idea and process understanding economics distasteful to most people, even to many intellectuals and scholars in other disciplines?   p. 160,  p. 175   

    b. What new approach to or model of economics do you recognize as a workable alternative?

    1. Will it, in your judgment, change the common public perception of economics and if so why?

    Project 3. If you feel inspired, find an example of a multinational corporate profit scheme disguised as a so-called national interest (other than the oil industry).

    5. In the global organized arena, do you think it is possible to expose masterminds of global economy as individuals? p. 162

    b. Do you think an exposé of the global organizations is as viable and effective?

    1. Do you see the action of the organizations linked back to key people as the policy designers and players?

    2. Instead, do you see the global economy as of a collusion of all the multinational corporations as players, which makes it too hard to make actual people accountable?  p. 176

    Project 4. The obstacles of a quasi-mechanical economy are analogous to the struggle that early humans had with predators and Earth disasters. It was struggle, though, as time past, it became easier to survive. The struggle workers face with globalization now becomes harder. Power over nature has brought forth the dilemma, which calls for cooperation with nature. As you see it, what might be the good side effect of our struggle against greater odds if reason does prevail?

    b. In your view, is the sea change swift enough to regain social and ecological balance?

    c. As you see them, identify obstacles of so-called human nature or tendencies, which also need diagnosis and treatment.

    1. How would you make addressing the obstacles a better approach than to blame and accuse individuals?

    Project 5: The new and the old paradigm: The culture of unbalanced self-interest as a basic structure within the old paradigm keeps us from being at home into the new paradigm of common unity. Self-awareness helps to see this in action; consider making a journal of your movement back and forth between the new and the old paradigm to document your awareness. If you feel inspired, trace the movement to the reasons why it occurred. See the patterns, if they exist, of your paths to and from the old and new paradigms.

    6. How does the move to privatize services move toward and reinforce globalization, as you see it?

    b. In you view, what if any of the market forces, underlie a governments push to privatize and sell public assets to the highest bidder?

    1. In your sense of it, describe the factors that lead to allowing a government of and by the people to sell public assets and contract out services to private interests.   p. 166

    Description: Part 8 consists of the twenty-six steps to justice in the GE as conceived by Professor Jane Kelsey of Auckland University. After each guideline, Professor Richards adds commentary from his perspective and proactive experience. This frames Part 8 of Understanding the Global Economy as (1) an analysis of the scientific theories that explain the global economy, (2) an expose of the economic rise and rule of free trade as enforced by trade pacts between corporations and central governments, and (3) a resource for building an ethical, sustainable economy based on research, knowledge and so cio-cultural solidarity.

    Keywords: alternative news media, beloved community, collective bargaining, cooperation, cooperatives, counter-cyclical spending, discourseeconomic literacy, economics, efficiency, efficient public service, ethics of care, ethical investment, free market free trade, gemeinschaft, globalization, Homo economicus, human rights, ILO, IMF, injustice, jubilee, labor movement, labor unions, liberation theology, market forces, market-speak, modern world-system, neoliberal, nonprofit, participatory democracy, profit, property, self-interest, social democracy, socialist, solidarity, structural transformation, think-tank, wages, World Bank


    Part IX: Scientific conclusionsTOC cover pagetop

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