RN: further to recent posts


Jan Slakov

Date: Sun, 1 Nov 1998 14:41:28 -0500 (EST)
From: Terisa Turner <•••@••.•••>
To: Jan Slakov <•••@••.•••>
cc: •••@••.•••
Subject: Re: RN: Globalization: a view from India

this was a wonderful post. thanks.

a related book which i strongly recommend to you and others interested in
the material in your article is:

john mcmurtry, unequal freedoms: the global market as an ethical system,
Toronto: garamond Press, 1998, isbn 1-55193-003-x (pb)

john mcmurtry has a second book coming out in 1998 with Pluto Press,
London called the cancer stage of capitalism.

Terisa E. Turner 
Departments of Sociology & Anthropology and Political Studies     
University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, CANADA      N1G 2W1            

Yves Bajard, of the Vitoria, BC, Canada based National Centre for
Sustainability, has written a paper on avoiding or at least minimizing the
ill effects of the disaterous course we as a society are headed towards. I
am sure he would be glad to forward a copy to anyone who requests it. 

Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 09:02:47 -0800
To: •••@••.••• (Paul Cienfuegos)
From: National Centre for Sustainability <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: Democracy Unlimited web site & other notes

Dear Paul Cienfuegos:

We received on  10:13 27/10/98 -0400, from Renaissance Network,
communication of your announcement of 22 Oct 1998 16:12:34 -0800
Democracy Unlimited's new Website on dismantling corporate rule, as a
project of Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (DUHC).

>From your statement of rationale, I see that you  are focusing on  very
down-to-earth affairs in the existing system, and in particular on a
crucial obstacle to our common survival on Earth, i.e. the neo-liberal
inspired supremacy of corporations above persons.  It also seems that you
are immersed in the electoral process in the US and in particular in

Without wanting to deny the merits and usefulness of what you are doing,
which is excellent, I wonder if it would not be useful to try and connect
with others (I know you are doing it anyway), such as ourselves at the
National Centre for Sustainability, so that you can replace the issue of
corporate power in a wider context. The economy is only one of many threads
in the communications and exchanges among humans on the planet. Also,at the
present stage, whatever improvements you can bring to the economic and
political system anywhere, I am afraid that past processes have brought
humanity to exercise such an intensive and unevenly applied load on society
itself and on the natural context within which we exist, that we are far
beyond the limits of resilience of the system. In other words, whatever we
do to improve the economic processes and the relations between corporations
and people, we are at the edge of a general collapse. To avoid it, or
minimize its effects, much more is necessary than what you do and in
addition to it.

In order tot rigger a conversation and some reflection, I am sending you
attached a paper written a little over a month ago on the theme of the
world problematique. Your comments and ideas for co-operation are welcome
any time.

Good luck with your Website and related action.

All the best,

Yves Bajard, D.Sc. Secretary, NCFS.
In this posting, Yves Bajard reminds us of the reality of how bigwigs like
Wolfenson make their public pronouncements. 

I was a bit naive in attributing any sincerity to his statements; after all,
he almost certainly didn't write them himself!
all the best, Jan

Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 16:31:33 -0800
From: National Centre for Sustainability <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: Wolfensohn in sheep's clothing!

Dear Paul and Jan, dear colleagues:

At 11:50 27/10/98 -0400, Jan Slakov sent, with comments a post by Paul
Swann expressing doubts about the sincerity of Wolfensohn, President of the
World Bank in his recent speech about the ills of the economy now.

I have a few comments on Jan's comments and a few harder questions for Paul.

1. RE Jan's comments:
1.1. Wolfensohn's speech is the result of professional work by employees of
the World Bank in a special department or section of speech writers.
Wolfensohn gives instructions about the directions of the message he wants
to convey, and the writers get to work. Wolfensohn corrects, amends, get
the revised speech re-polished by the professionals, then he learns it and
delivers. This is PR. It does not correspond to a fundamental commitment of
the Bank to anything. There has been many nice speeches by World Banks VIPs
since the late sixties. They did not change the Bank's course significantly
1.2. Wolfensohn's speech  is, like all similar speeches, double edged. One
has to analyze, as Paul did, the possible dual meanings of some phrases, to
see how many words mean in fact very little.

2. Comments on Paul Swann's analysis:
2.1. Full agreement with Paul's interpretation of Wolfensohn's  "new
approach to development partnership...led by governments and parliaments of
the countries, influenced by the civil society of those countries". As the
people and their governments in all countries accept to operate in a
debt-based, short-term profit maximization in a monetary system where non
monetary values are ignored, the wealthiest and most entrepreneurial
financiers will keep everything under their control. "

What Wolfensohn calls "civil society" is certainly not what we understand
as such. He probably means well chosen businesss' representatives in the
2.2. I think that Paul Swann jumps the guns in his declaration that "We,
civil society, must cry "Wolf" and demand AUTHENTIC monetary reform and a
GENUINELY new global financial architecture that eradicates the parasitic
elite and their corrupt institutions."

My reasons to say that are the following:
2.2.1, Paul Swann, in spite of his formidable credentials, does not
represents "civil society". He does not have a mandate from a sufficient
number of organizations claiming to operate within a context of civil
society to speak in the name of civil society.
2.2.2 He uses in his declaration a tone which cannot be effective. When he
asks for the eradication of "parasitic elites and of their corrupt
institutions", or talks about "toady politicians" , he satisfies probably
an old beef against those people, but cuts all possibilities of
communication with  anyone from these groups of persons.  They are declared
the enemy. 

Then, if there are among them a few (very few, perhaps) persons already
sensitized to the issues raised by globalization or more generally by human
load on the system,  they will be turned off by Paul's tone and will
regroup around the old guard in their camp..

As it is impossible to effectively neutralize the move toward globalization
by raising a war (even a guerilla war) against the forces of the system
that pushes toward a through elimination of barriers to trade and to the
movements of capital, it is essential to try and open communications with
the persons in that system who may already be open to some form of
alternative or to looking at the situation from another angle than that of
the strict "classical" dogma. I would therefore propose a non-compromising
and non conflictual approach on the subject.
2.2.3. Rather than demanding a change of attitude among the bankers,
corporations, politicians etc.. as a group, I insist that we should try and
identify in these groups persons likely to listen, then start a careful
development of communication with the idea of bringing them to recognize
the extreme danger of the path they are treading on, to the world and to
themselves. (We know that they destroy society, but we also know that they
are no exception to the destruction. They are not sheltered. This is what
we need to get them to understand. Then we can try and find together with
them modifications (perhaps drastic)  in the structures and processes that
would make society change course without too much disturbance (we must
avoid creating more damage than we try to avoid), and set sail on something
safe and tolerable. Then they would do the selling of these changes to
their peers and associates much more easily than any of us could.

2.2.4. When Paul Swann says that "It is time to re-think the basic
assumptions on which our societies are based, he is right. However, when he
calls for  an" AUTHENTIC monetary reform and a GENUINELY new global
financial architecture", he preempts on the nature and extent of the
solution which is necessary but unknown and can only be determined through
a thorough re-thinking of current ways of doing things, against a
background of (credible) and quantified assessment of the extent and
imminence of the risks. Such an assessment, to be credible, must be
prepared by a group of persons including representatives from all sides,
including the promoters of the globalization process under way. This is why
it is so important not to antagonize the "elite" and the "toady politicians" 

It is not really too useful to denounce strongly all the shortcomings of
the system, the cheating and lies that underscore current socio-economic
and political processes, etc.. . This again invites to a defensive attitude
from people we would need to communicate with.

We are definitely not in a position where it serves a useful purpose to put
the noses of people in their excreta because of their role in promoting
leading, managing or working in a destructive system. We must remain cool
and try to see what needs to be done to overturn the present
socio-economic, cultural and political trends and avoid the crash. Gengis
Khan said a few centuries ago something which I find very wise: "There is
no worse strategic error than making enemies without needing them.."

Food for thought..

All the best,

Yves Bajard..