cj#1037,rn-> guest essay re: “What to do about the WTO”


Richard Moore

Dear cj,

I am somewhat at a loss about what to be posting these days.
 Things are happening so fast.  The potential from Seattle
is TREMENDOUS for all of the following:
    -democratic resurgance
    -fascist suppression
    -overall confusion

I've got about a dozen things that seem important to post.
There are useful forwards from many sources; there are
thoughtful pieces that readers have sent in; there are
things I'd like to say.

Or I may just retire for a while and get something ready for
print publication.

Perhaps you guys could send me some feedback about whether
you want to see lots of stuff, or certain kinds of stuff or

Below is an essay someone who is not a subscriber sent in to
me personally.  I'm calling this person "X" and sending them
a Bcc: copy.  X put some good thinking into this and you may
find it of value.


Let me say this about Seattle.  The gestapo police behavior
- in my humble opinion - was completely orchestrated
beforehand.  Not by the mayor & not by the police chief -
they were pawns just like everyone else.  I don't have
theories about how these kinds of things are managed - there
are too many obvious and simple ways it could have been
done.  The point is to observe what transpired and what it
implies for the future.

They used more violence and more indiscriminantly than at
any time in the anti-Vietnam or civil-rights movements - and
with considerably less provocation.

As I think back over historical precedents my mind goes to
the Nazi storm-troopers of the 1920s and 1930s.

People who are theorizing and writing about "After Seattle"
better start taking this into account.

I hope you all noticed in our previous posting (#1036, re-
Amnesty International) about the possibility of non-lethal
nerve gas being used.  If this sounds extreme to you,
consider the use of depleted uranium on a massive scale in
Iraq and Yugoslavia.   This was inhuman not only for the
intended targets, but also for the Western troops who were
exposed.  Whoever is making these kinds of decisions has the
same kind of mentality as those who built gas chambers.


Date: Sat, 11 Dec 1999 18:52:44 -0600 (CST)
From: X
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: rkm: "What to do about the WTO"
MIME-Version: 1.0

Hi, Richard Moore, somehow your cyberspeech about the issue
of the WTO and the battle of Seattle has reached me. I have
not much knowledge of economic, not much real and solid
anyway, to give an opinion. I have read "Small is Beautiful"
by Schumacher, some John Kenneth Galbraith, Paul Samuelson,
and that is about it. Anyhow, my perspective comes more from
the humanities than everything else, and politics has not
been my favorite subject, although I realize is unavoidable
for anyone who cares minimally for freedom.

Anyhow, I want to be slightly more personal, so that you
understand where I am coming from. First of all, I live in
the US, and I am aware of some of the things you say, like
slave-labor in prisons. I don't have a first hand
experience, because this society has despite its avowed
tradition of openness, a certain opaqueness, a certain
unreality which is hard to convey, and which I don't know to
what extent it has creeped up in Europe. I don't believe in
the NY Times, even when it says something which is
factually, but partially, true. I wonder whether another
possible way of understanding things would be the idea that
media itself has some intrinsic properties, that is
properties that go beyond the evil or good intentions of
those who own them and fill them with content. ["The Medium
is the Message".- McLuhan]. Also, in relation to this
strange opaqueness of society, this sensation of being an
insect, without power, of not truly belonging, of having no
say and no identity, and yet of being comfortable, I think
it is a condition that many people are in right now. YOu are
right when you say there is no conspiracy, no X-files type
of conspiracy anyway. Everything is out in the open, for
anyone who has the strength and patience to research as
Chomsky says. Still I am pretty uncomfortable about all
this. Baudrillard speaks of the "transparency of evil", this
evil which is not hidden from us, which is in the TV screens
in the form of wars, natural catastrophes, hunger, etc. and
which by mere repetition becomes inocuous. Paradoxically the
transparency becomes opaqueness in a society that is so
complex and overloaded with information and contradic- tory
accounts of reality, that one doesn't know what to belief.
Everything is a show.

I think Seattle was a great comeback, the biggest since the
sixties, that drew masses, well-organized masses to its
affirmation in the political arena. Clinton could not
ignore, and actually he obtained some political dividends
out of it. HOwever, I cannot lose sight of the fact that
being in the media, the event becomes part of the society of
the espectacle. The depiction of pluralistic media perverts
the very spirit of the movement. So many stories are run
about everything that the only answer people find is
indifference. Everything tends to sameness.

Anyhow, I don't want to be pessimistic. Pessimism is
actually a form of cowardice, especially when the pessimist
is comfortable and wants to hide its lack of commitment
under a pessimistic discourse. Pessimism is a legitimate
attitude only for those who are truly desperate.

Nevertheless, I am not willing to relinquish my critical
faculties. I believe in a self-managed, small scale
organizing of society, but I am aware at the same time that
to know what are authentic, humane values is a pretty
complex thing. There is no single truth, but a variety of
truths, depending on one's own situation in the world. We
are condemned to negativity. We can repeat the old leftist
error of searching for JUSTICE and TRUTH, but instead we
must strive for unpretentious little truths, and little just
arrangements that minimize suffering and empower people
again, from the dignity and power we are being stripped off.

The problem in poor countries is dire poverty; the problem
in rich countries is fattening abundance and objectification
of human beings. Which doesn't mean that the only problems
the poor face are material. Not just that, there is also a
loss of dignity, a loss of self-respect and ability to
control their own fate.

The question now I want to ask you or suggest to you is the
following: you seem to say that the logic of capitalists,
the ones from the biggest corporations is that since GROWTH
is the only way capitalism can be sustained, now growth must
be achieved at any cost through the depredation of natural
resources and at the same time with the maintenance of the
power and prosperity of the elites, even if at the cost of
the relative prosperity that the middle classes have
nowadays. Don't you think that this is a way of saying that
the logic of growth and economy is autonomous, that there is
no accountability at all? Somebody (Habermas) said that the
problem lies in that technological, instrumental reason has
become an end in itself, that it has emancipated itself from
the need to dialogue and come about decisions in a
democratic way. (McLuhan had said that democracy is for the
age of the telegraph and printing press; in the retribalized
age of TV, it is out of place). Even some people that pose
as democrats really believe that governments run more
smoothly if they are treated with the criteria of management
instead than as parliamentary systems. Fascism is really the
most honest way of running a capitalist society, and I think
we are already living in an age of corporate fascism, which
disguises itself so incredibly as democracy. But still my
question lingers on: do you really believe there is people
on the top that just care for their own mean interests?
Don't you think the system itself has reached such level of
impersonality that it can maintain itself just through the
force of ideology, independent of individual intentions?
What type of totalitarian system would be more dreadful, a
personal or an impersonal one? One that shows its true face
or one that smiles at you and gives you candy?

The picture you paint is actually somehow apocalyptic, and I
was alarmed a little bit. I used to take the millenarian
fears merely as a cultural phenomenon, extraordinary but
deceitful at the same time. I don't quite believe that now.
You see, I think hyperreality is the mode of existence for
that 1% of the world population that owns a computer or that
30%-something? that owns a TV. Reality hits hard on many
people nowadays; wars are far more devastating and cruel;
hunger is ever more absurd. Nevertheless, the people that
live in the mode of hiperreality, whether is a middle-class
dude or an insensitive bureaucratic manager are the ones who
live at the "center" of the world, despite the fact that
there is a trend towards decentralization.

Ok, I have written too much. I just wanted to share my
concerns and doubts. Hope you get something out of it.

Best regards,


Dear X,

There is lots of debate about whether 'agency' or
'structuralism' is the source of our problems.  'Agency'
says there people or groups who make decisions that make a
difference.  'Structuralism' says things happen somewhat
autonomously.  One branch of structuralism blames everything
on corporations and absentee ownership of stock.  Marx was a
structuralist and he blamed capitalism.

I've written a chapter on this topic which I can re-post if
there is interest.  Basically, my analysis is that
capitalism & elite-control have co-evolved.  Here's how...

Capitalism - structurally - always runs out of growth room
under any particular societal 'regime'. When that happens,
then either capitalism must collapse (major depressions etc)
or else the regime must be changed.  The adoption of
Keynsian economics was an example of a 'regime change'.  The
adoption of neoliberalism (Reagan & Thatcher) was a 'regime
change'.  Embarking on wars and imperialist expansion are
'regime changes'.  All of these 'regime changes' create new
growth vehicles for capitalism.

There have been many regime changes like this over the past
couple centuries in the USA and the rest of the West.
What's happened is that the making of 'regime changes' has
itself evolved into a science.  That is to say: one of the
consequences of capitalism's STRUCTURAL evolution has been
the emergence of ELITE AGENCY.

It is a matter of historical fact - not theory of any kind -
that small elites now covertly control the course of world
history.  Take a look at my book-in-progress and see what
you think...


Richard K Moore
Wexford, Irleand
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance

                Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful
                committed citizens can change the world,
                indeed it's the only thing that ever has.
                        - Margaret Mead

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