By Johan Galtung
Unbelievable but true: Obama, other presidents and governments are seriously contemplating to hand their countries, people and all, over to business to create the largest “free trade areas” in history with NAFTA for North America, TPP for the Pacific, TTIP to the Atlantic and TiSA, services covering some 50 states all over.
Pharmaceuticals, chemicals, textiles, chicken; communications, e-trade, financial services, insurance, what not, negotiate across the oceans how to market each other’s products across oceans, overriding domestic laws, even constitutions that stand in the way of business.
The State-Capital-People, or Government-Investors-Civil Society restructured against not only Civil Society, but Parliament and Law.
The gains for business are obvious; removing the last inter-state tariff and non-tariff barriers, and more importantly: intra-state laws and regulations impeding the free flow of goods and services to protect people and nature; except laws protecting business.
So, imagine what may happen. The safest investment would be in transportation of goods and communication of services as basically the same products will be flowing in all directions. There will be even more buying and selling. Many prices will fall, products will be cheaper to customers, others not, depending on what these branches decide. Business will make more money than ever, connecting, linking producers and consumers; charging commissions.
The net result? Even more inequality. Laws taxing commissions may be declared illegal, like progressive taxation and inheritance tax. Benefits to the middle and lower classes from lower prices for consumer goods may be more than offset by welfare state benefits cut and the erosion of safety. Jobs will be lost when goods produced elsewhere are also available. On top of that all the harms of unequal societies so well described by many recently.
This article sees the three agreements as a tipping edge from democracy; but, to what?
Away from democracy as a process of and by the people, and away from democracy as a society for the people, except in the sense of lower prices. Goodbye Lincoln.
In the process secret parties are negotiating secretly secret texts; people are bypassed, no referendum, no informed debate in public space; parliaments are refused the right to vote or bypassed by “fast track” procedures giving “law-makers” minimal say. Processes that have taken centuries to build are neglected. Destruction is easy, a decade or two; reconstruction may take considerably more time.
A process toward what kind of society? A structural autocracy.
Not an autocracy in the Stalin-Hitler-Franco sense known to Europeans. Those autocrats were dictators, they dictated policies and their dictates were known; if not the details in the processes.
In a structural autocracy there may be top autocrats from State and Capital – not from People – but their names are secret. They are accountable to nobody but themselves. Everything is secret including that secret, but that and many other secrets were (wiki)Leaked. And Assange has now been isolated in an embassy for three years. As all of this must have been planned for some years, the extreme US anger at his and Snowden’s whistleblowing, struggle, fight is understandable.
In the structural autocracy inter- and intra-state economic flows will run by themselves, on their own steam, generating enough money.
There is a system for investor-state dispute settlement by arbitration (google “ISDS Clause”) whereby investors can sue foreign governments but governments cannot sue foreign investors. Nor can Civil Society sue them as a treaty will remain unknown for years. Secret judges will use secret procedures and arguments subvert the rule of law in addition to democracy. The court is in Washington DC, linked to the World Bank, linked to the US government.
In a dictatorship-autocracy direct violence is flowing to keep people in line. We know the methods: breaching into homes at night, searching for arms and documents, arresting somebody, torture, detention in dungeons or concentration camps, killing; even genocidal killing of women and children. Rightly opposed by everybody, torture and genocide falling under jus cogens, mandatory law.
In the structural autocracy in the making, with State and People subordinate to Business nothing like that may happen, or so they hope. People will literally buy the system at lower prices, being bribed. The Capital-Consumer alliance will reduce people to exactly that, to consumers as some other autocracies have reduced people to soldiers, workers, sycophants, to spectators at Colosseum, TV.
Democracy elevated people to become the masters of State, even of Capital. State-Capital now hit back. Business as usual, one might say.
In a structural autocracy structural, not direct violence flows.
We can predict a return to life expectancies for lower classes half of the higher classes, 45 years against 90, often in agonizing misery.
With no financial control there will be unimpeded derivative speculation with savings, pension funds etc. and crashes like 2008. Not instant killing, but steady erosion of many peoples’ livelihoods.
With pharmaceuticals unopposed some cures can only be bought by people at the top. It took centuries to build welfare states, a decade or two to destroy them. Rebirth may take considerably more time.
Obamacare, constitutional or not, will be a victim, standing in the way of the insurance industry. So why is Obama in it?
He never really cared for the US underprivileged, women, blacks, unemployed, and lower classes who voted for him but betrayed them in favor of the middle classes and was punished at mid-term. A megalomaniac, he was “above the parties”, making deals with Republicans; this is one.
STOP IT! Do not sign countries, people and all, into suicide.
Originally published at Transcend Media Service here.