Protocols of EcoSolidarity:
WHILE THE REST OF US sweat out our taxes or rummage through the garbage dumps of the rich - 50 percent of US companies pay no income tax at all.
6o percent of the processed foods in supermarkets have GMOs
Economics Simplified IS Democracy Revived
Solidarity Economics + Ecology = Local Power
[arrange these three anyway you want and it works!]
2190 words by Marcel Idels
QUESTION AND PLEA: Can WE - civil society or whomever is interested - have a straw poll vote on which general economic system should be promoted at Cancun and in the future as an alternative to US-Corporate-Led- Globalization? Option #1 Partially Decentralized and somewhat ecological Socialism; #2 Moderate International Reform a la Oxfam and George Monbiot; #3 Localization, Green and Solidarity Economics with major decentralization and local control.
I. The Problem of the World and Some Definitions
A contest of ideologies and of political economy is what all wars and all struggles for liberation entail: a struggle for the best land, water and mineral resources.
A New Economics must answer these questions convincingly: How much land and wealth redistribution; How does a new structure restrain the State, guarantee local autonomy and individual freedoms; What is the role of economic growth; How much democratic choice? Finally, the question of agency: who will fight, who will lose? (1)
President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez promised homes, health care and education for the poor. Prodded by US interests, the Venezuelan Elite responded with treason, sabotage and propaganda. Chavez in the Spirit of the Brazilian MST encouraged the people to respond with their own Power because the struggle for land reform and the rights of the people will only be real when the people assert them. And so, from a desire for modest reforms, Chavez has followed the people into a new world of Local Power, Solidarity Economics and Revolutionary Education. (2)
Something is terribly wrong with global civil society or its leaders. The US Empire machine is humming along conquering, killing or intimidating vast areas of the globe. The main weakness of the US is that it cannot sustain its economy without global control. The hidden hand of US power that compliments its Imperialist armed forces is the WTO and other trade agreements. If civil society would agree on a new economics and hold strikes and protests similar to those done before the US invasion of Iraq, then a new world would be born.
In mid-September in Cancun, Mexico the US and its supporters in Europe (UK and Spain) will try to consolidate their neo-colonial economic plan. Despite the heroic struggle of the MST Landless Workers movement in Brazil, the proposals made by the International Forum on Globalization (IFG), the World Social Forum and the work of numerous localization and agro-ecology proponents, there is still no global plan for an alternative to US domination. This is a crime and should it continue then armed resistance would be the only viable option for the worlds poor.
George Monbiot, Naomi Klein, Ralph Nader and many other leaders must be held accountable for some of this confusion and lost opportunity. Despite calls by many groups these leaders refuse to discuss, debate or clarify their positions and their strategies. Monbiot has gone so far as to reject localization without a logical explanation or an inspiring alternative. Thus dissention is sown on the eve of the Cancun-WTO. (3)
Food is the issue that can unite all people. The main problem faced by many poor countries is low commodity prices. In most cases low prices are the result of massive agribusiness subsidies in OECD countries – welfare for the rich by the rich. The value of these subsidies is 5 times the value of all of the food exports of poor countries.
Again, Ecosolidarity puts forward our perspective in hope of dialog and to educate the public about alternative economic systems.
FROM THE EARTH AND THE SWEAT OF THE PEOPLE:
THE FUNDAMENTALS OF SOLIDARITY ECONOMICS
Except for the myth of the invisible hand, economics is a very simple concept: Some people will buy a certain amount of a product at a particular price. The invisible hand is supposed to be the price signal that purchasers send to producers through the market. This price signal works for eggs and labor (wages) as well as the purity of water and the experience of art. In reality, most prices are determined by the average cost of production.
Like con artists, the government and the elite are talented at slight of hand and mouth. They rely on bait-and-switch tactics to confuse the masses and betray our trust. (4) And they cover their tracks and their crimes with new manufactured crises like wars, and wars on drugs or terrorism. The really invisible hand of the market is composed of the laws, subsidies and regulations that are created by self-serving politicians at the behest of the elite, the rich and the corporations. This System built on a foundation of stealthy lies is out of control and devouring the life and poor people of the planet.
The System is the important nation-shaping structure that the people never get to vote on. (5)
A political system without economic democracy is a sham. The World Trade Organization (WTO), like NAFTA and the FTAA, takes the lie one step further and formally restricts a nations or a communitys ability to pass laws relating to the kind of economy they wish to have. Very few people know much about the WTO and its destruction of local democracy. (6)
The theoretical models of democracy, democratic republics and the models of economic market theory are based on the ideas that voters or consumers have perfect information about their choices and the associated prices. However, most people have almost no information and the complexity of the world makes a mockery of notions of citizen participation and democratic decision-making . (7)
Economics is Simple: SOLIDARITY IS DEMOCRACY
Understanding the alternative policies that can give direction to a new kind of economics is necessary if the world is to move away from a war on the poor and the ecology. The royalty, business people and the crudely elected elite representatives of so-called Democratic Republics have been shaping our views of economics and keeping people
from believing in alternatives for decades. Vietnam (since 1945); Cuba (since 1959); Chile (since 1973); El Salvador (since 1976); Nicaragua (since 1979); and Venezuela and Colombia (since 1989) were never military threats to the US. They were never even indirect economic threats to the US, unless somehow they had been able to unify.
Similar irrational fears have motivated the US blood lust against Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. But it is not the military or the marginal economic threats that the US really fears, its these countries pursuit of alternative economic programs controlled by the people or their vanguards. From these examples to tiny Grenada; Panama; Waco, Texas and the marijuana fields of Northern California the US flexes its military muscle to keep the world safe for corporate capitalism - and to keep debate or any living examples of alternative structures from taking root.(8)
As some of the henchmen of the corporate and oil baron world have said: The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist... the US Armed Forces. The US military apparatus has a market value far beyond their annual $400 billion budget, a budget equal to the annual incomes of the poorest two billion people in the world. (9)
II. The Solutions to the Worlds Problem
The real choice that people have is: Do they want a sustainable and just economy that is kind to people and neighbors or do they want to destroy the planet, fight ugly resource wars and pervert their humanity?
What Kind of Economy Shall We Have?
Economics is a simple concept and an economic system is only as complex as a people choose to allow it to be. People can have any kind of economy they want. How long their system will last is a more difficult question. The US and UK have created a global casino (or Enron) economy where the US trades financial services like the privilege of using our banks and stock markets for 100s of billions of dollars in imported coffee, cars, computers, sugar, cut flowers and steel. The US does not have to produce much except weapons in order to create a safe haven for investors and thus earn billions off of bank transfers and stock brokers fees that the US uses to pay for its lavish imports. Another global subsidy to the US is the US dollar that enjoys unusual strength due to its use as the benchmark currency for petroleum and other goods. An artificially strong dollar allows the US to get away with huge trade deficits that would normally result in high interest rates and economic problems. (11)
From the battles in Latin American one can see a new world is about to be born. It is a world where people create the space and freedom to be themselves and care for themselves and their families. New economic structures - an alternative system - can accomplish this in ways that build thriving and sustainable communities. The sciences of Agro-Ecology and Watershed Management can accomplished this goal with common sense and lessons from the past.
There are really only two viable economic programs available at this time. The first is to abandon the WTO, World Bank and IMF and re-institute the international regime of trade deals between countries that functioned from 1945-1984. With debt relief for poor countries and a doubling of foreign (non-tied) aid this system would function economically if not sustainably. The problem with this system is that the US would collapse since it is no longer able to compete against most of the world. The bubble would burst and chaos in the US could spread to the rest of the world. Late in the game a revolution would break out in the US when the people figured out through their haze of Prozac and illegal drugs that their government had lied and conned them so totally for decades.
Agrarian-Based Localization: A Structure for Solidarity, Local Power and Sustainable Economics
The New Economics argues for a bias toward rural areas and a policy structure of localization where local resources are used sustainably to produce most of the basic needs goods and a surplus for trade with its nearest neighbors first. Political Democracy beyond the region is not necessary because most of the decisions over public policy are set in a constitution or made locally. This structure solves the problems of bureaucracies, political conflict and concentration of wealth. Initially land is redistributed to three sectors: small holders, coops and locally owned lands held for distribution to newcomers and population growth. Markets are used locally, but trade is regulated beyond regions through toll roads and high fuel taxes. Toxic chemicals, genetically altered organisms and the weapons trade would be banned. Combined with ecological guidelines and additional restrictions on trade and land ownership concentration, the market would create economic conditions that support small, medium and cooperative-based farms and rural enterprises. (12)
- The US is a business organization like the worst Mafia or drug cartels. Their business slogan is crafted for its persuasive bluntness: Pay tribute, give us the keys to your economy, your investments and ideas or else we kill you. This is same motto used so powerfully by drug baron Pablo Escobar: Plata o Pluma! (10) - Marriana De Lore
The Only Real Alternative to War and Global Collapse
1. Globalization and Political Democracy are largely replaced with environmentally sustainable decentralized economic democracy: localization planned by popular assemblies with input from research scientists.
2. Multinational, Transnational or Global corporations are abolished outright or through the steps outlined by the IFG. (Utne Reader, May-June 2003, p. 55)
3. The WTO, FTAA, NAFTA, IMF and World Banks cease to exist.
4. The War on Terror will disappear along with most terrorism once inequality is reduced along with US militarism and domination.
5. Genetically Modified organisms (GMOs) are forbidden along with most toxic chemicals . The US pays reparations for the damages done by these bio-terror weapons.
Starvation, Food Sovereignty, Environmentally Sustainable Development and Resource Wars are all linked.
If the Brazilian constitution defends the right of the starving to steal food, then surely the poor of the world have the right - under any way of thinking - to steal back control over their lives and their local economies.
The invisible hand of government policies shapes production costs and the price consumers are willing to pay. If people want a country with many small farms producing organic products then they will be able to employ many people in a labor-intensive program. But people will pay more for food in the short run than they would if they continued to let rich people gobble up farmland and poison it with chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and GMOs. Instead of a profit maximizing and export based decision-making criteria - with the rich owning most of the land - we would create a long-run soil conserving and biologically diverse system of farming where inputs - especially imported inputs - were not needed and expensive machinery would be replaced with labor, local resources and ingenuity. Prices are only lower in the corporate farm system because so many of the externalized costs are not paid by the corporation. These costs include slave labor, cheap loans, social suffering from displacement of small farmers, repression of farm workers and severe impacts on the environment. (13)
Hugo Chavez, the MST and the Argentine and Bolivian insurrectionists have shown us living examples of how a new world will function. Let us call this new way Solidarity Economics and let us develop it quickly and use it as our pot-banging call to action against the US Empire and its neo-colonial followers.
Victory stirs in the grasp of all who raise their fist to seize it, tame it and build a new world.
FROM BUENOS AIRES TO THE ECOLOGICAL PARADISE OF COLOMBIA A MILLION MULTITUDES OF FISTS - SMALL AND LARGE - ARISE IN UNITY AND Solidarity.
* Available by request
(2) Consolidation of working class support
In order to combat the hoarding and price hikes of food by big business and speculators Chavez has undertaken a number of measures. According to Vheadline ( http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=5653 ), the government has begun a program where it will invest US $836 million to find a secure food supply for the population but in particular the working class. The program also includes the establishment of government-subsidized supermarkets which ensure food supplies to the poor at a cheaper price. ( http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=4068 )
The government has also began the implementation of land reform which promises to have settled 100,000 people by the end of August. ( http://www.newleftreview.net/NLR25505.shtml) More recently, the Chavez government has launched the “Into the Neighborhood” program. ( http://www.workers.org/ww/2003/venez0724.php) This is a highly ambitious program which seeks to address the lack of quality education and health-care to the poor of Venezuela by sending doctors into the slums free of charge, and mobilizing 50,000 volunteers to eradicate illiteracy among 1 million people. The two projects have expert assistance and personnel from Cuba, universally recognized for its quality health and education programs.
The Venezuelan media have called this a “Cuban invasion” (Caracas newspaper El Universal) and have decried the “Cubanization” of Venezuela. When confronted with this allegation, Cuban President Fidel Castro noted: “This is the equivalent of saying that to save a life or contribute to a young person obtaining a gold medal for his or her homeland is to Cubanize the Venezuelan people… We should thank those stupid people for such a great honor.”Already, as the July 25 Associated Press reports, ( http://reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=ourWorldNews&storyID=3159875) , “the Cuban doctors are a big hit with local residents who say few Venezuelan doctors dare to venture into the teeming hilltop slums that ring this sprawling South American capital. "Everybody is happy about it ... We've never seen Venezuelan doctors climbing up here," said 63-year-old Liboria Espinosa.”
See critique of Monbiot’s flip-flop at www.bluegreenearth.com (George Monbiot: Trading Rhetoric on Trade for Action, by Marcel Idels)
(11) US Trade deficits of $500 billion dollars have to be financed by borrowing or selling assets to foreigners. When the dollar falls enough interest rates will have to go up and the US will re-enter recession.