Here are the notes for a speech WILPF (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom) president Bruna Nota made in Michigan in April. I really like this piece (even though we can't have the graphic which went with it). It's partly that I can almost hear Bruna speaking when I read it (and she is a special friend). But it's mainly because I think any of us, even people who have been fighting corporate globalization for years, can learn from it, and yet this analysis and vision is something even someone who doesn't know what the DC/Seattle protests were all about could relate to. all the best, Jan ********************************************************* Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 11:20:55 -0400 From: Bruna Nota <•••@••.•••> CREATING A CULTURE OF PEACE IN THE FACE OF ECONOMIC GLOBALIZATION X X Michigan WILPF April 2000 X X by Bruna Nota - WILPF International President Dear friends and colleagues, Thank you for inviting me to be with you today. I would like to start to ask you to join with me in acknowledging the 85th anniversary of WILPF. In 1915, over a thousand women from about a dozen countries, many at war with each other, gathered in The Hague to protest against such barbaric way to resolve differences, and to ask for a stop to the fighting. They were not successful, but then as now it was evident that durable peace cannot be achieved if the root causes of war are not addressed: social, economic and political injustices continue to be at the root of all the fighting and violence in the world. A durable peace seems to be even more remote today as economic globalization has created a deeper than ever divide between 'have' and 'have not'. A clarification: When we talk about globalization today, what we really mean is "corporate globalization". The protests this week in Washington, as last fall in Seattle, are addressing this blight. We do want to continue to work to 'globalise', - to make universal the charter of human rights, - to fully understand the inter-relatedness of all humans and all aspect of nature. - We want to continue to use the technology that allows us to express this inter-relatedness and which can help build a culture of peace. With this in mind, let us look, first at two of the most devastating and interrelated manifestations of corporate globalization. 1) Globalization and the loss of democracy 2) The linkage between militarism, consumption and globalization Then we will look at 3) Alternative way of organising our society to achieve a culture of peace that alone can bring about the social transformation necessary for social and political equality and economic equity for all. GLOBALIZATION AND THE LOSS OF DEMOCRACY One of the least talked about, and most pernicious aspect of corporate globalization is the loss of democracy that it has caused. The beginning of the end of course came when in 1886 the US Supreme Court ruled (in Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad) that corporations are persons under the law. Women had asked for recognition as person in 1875, but their request was denied until 1920. In reality, corporations have none of the characteristics of persons. They are a legal entity, created for the purpose of making money. They are not 'citizens'. They do not have a 'social conscience' or 'social responsibility'. These are feel good labels that obfuscate the fact that corporations have, as their sole goal, the multiplication of profits for their shareholders. This of course includes the requirement to create forever-new needs for products that we would not otherwise dream of wanting. To achieve this profit aim they obstruct democracy at every turn, by manipulating language, ideas and culture, by buying the persons in our governments that will best serve the essential profit interest that they have. In realty, governments create corporations by granting them charters. In a democracy, blood and flesh citizens create governments and therefore WE THE PEOPLE must exert both our responsibility and our right: we must demand from our government that the conditions for granting corporate charter be much more stringent and that, charters must be revoked when not complied with. We must debunk the myth that corporations are persons. At present, not only do we not revoke the charter of corporations; we extend their powers. Here is an example. Barely six weeks before the Millennium Round meetings in Seattle, the deregulation of the US banking system was approved by the US Senate. The new legislation favours an unprecedented concentration of global financial power. In the wake of lengthy negotiations which concluded in the early hours of October 22nd, all regulatory restraints on Wall Street's powerful banking conglomerates were revoked "with a stroke of the pen". This legislation has repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, a pillar of President Roosevelt's "New Deal" which was put in place in response to the climate of corruption, financial manipulation and "insider trading" which led to more than 5,000 bank failures in the years following the 1929 Wall Street crash. In other words, a handful of financial conglomerates will gain effective control over the entire US financial services industry. These financial giants oversee the real economy worldwide, they are creditors and shareholders of high tech manufacturing, major oil and mining consortia, the defence industry, etc. Moreover, as underwriters of the public debt, they also have a stranglehold on national governments and politicians. GLOBALIZATION, CONSUMPTION AND MILITARISM We have raised the "shop until you drop" adage to the level of national duty. We must keep the economy churning and we must consume. Japanese were roundly rebuked for not spending enough in consumer goods. Corporations have the insatiable need to create forever new markets. This is the fertile soil in which the roots of violence and injustice grow: the soil of greed. We, in the USA and Canada, represent 15% of the world population but consume 85% of the world's resources. The USA is also the one country that has the highest military power, and we in Canada are generally quite happy to be following in your leaders' steps and be protected by your arsenal. We contribute some, but mostly, we contribute compliance. a) Militarism is a way to secure a stable climate for investments: The linkage between consumption and military spending is made quite explicit by the following statement by an apologist for this "New World Order", Thomas Friedman: "The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist- McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps." The people whose natural and human richness we continue to exploit and despoil must be kept under control, so that the depredation of Indonesia, the Congo, Colombia, Sierra Leone… can continue. And we play right along with it. We, as consumers protest when the price of oil goes up, we go to war (in "Operation Desert Storm in 1991) for the protection of our oil supply! Similarly, we have our armies, and / or our vassals to ensure the continued supply, at cheap prices of the necessary bauxite, diamonds, copper, coffee, cocoa… We, as investors are asking higher and higher returns, regardless of whose blood pays for these returns. b) Militarism is a major player in the global corporate world The military industry is the most profitable industry of all. (It also happens to be the most polluting and the one creating the greater havoc). As Steven Staples of the Council of Canadians noted in a speech on "WTO and the Global War System", which he delivered in Seattle on November 29th, arms corporations derive a double benefit from the WTO system: Not only do they profit from the elimination of environmental, health, and labor standards generated by the WTO process, Their own activities in the military sphere -- including massive research and export subsidies from their home governments -- are EXEMPT from challenge under WTO rules. Staples cites Article XXI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade -- the main WTO governing document -- which states that a country can't be prevented from taking any action "it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests ... relating to the traffic in arms, ammunition, and implements of war and such traffic in other goods and materials as is carried on directly for the purpose of supplying a military establishment (or) taken in time of war or other emergency in international relations." This "security exception" gives governments a perverse incentive to invest in the military sector at the expense of civilian projects. Just as car manufacturers were enthusing in the 1980s about the "world car" with components built in many different countries, in the 1990s weapons manufacturers and the governments of the major military powers have laid the groundwork for the "world fighter plane." Components of Lockheed Martin's F-16 fighter plane are now built in a dozen different countries, including major assembly lines in Israel, South Korea, Turkey, and Taiwan. We know that the ongoing criminal punishment of Iraq, the barely ended war in Yugoslavia, the violent situation in Colombia, Afghanistan, Turkey, East Timor, Burma, Iraq, Sierra Leone or the Horn of Africa, are the result of many and ongoing injustices and acts of violence. Some of them are exasperated by these countries' departure from the dominant powers' agenda, while some of them are fuelled by the desire to maintain a regimen that is favourable to the agenda dictated by greed. This net of linkages explains the selectivity in our foreign policy and intervention measures. ALTERNATIVE VISION FOR ALTERNATIVE CULTURE How can we, in the face of all this, create a culture of peace? The first, absolute need is for us to be convinced that we have power over our destiny, that we are responsible for the world we create or for the world we allow to be created on our behalf. We need to accept that we must change our vision, we must 'convert', in the biblical sense, turn around. As long as we believed that the earth was flat we developed all our sciences and adopted restrictive behaviors to fit this concept. The 'conversion' into a vision of the earth as being round has freed us. If we continue to seek peace within the framework that we have been transmitted by the presently dominant culture, we will never succeed to eliminate the root causes of war, or the rationalizations for its unrivalled inefficacy. We will forever protest after the fact, after new virulent aggression has occurred, after more harmful weapons have been invented, produced, traded and used, after fresh atrocities have been perpetrated. We will be permanently faced with the solutions presented by the war experts, as peace is seen as nothing but an interlude between wars, or a pact that is imposed by the most powerful, and which needs to be managed by the war machinery and war industry. We have defined security as "national security". This definition is based in the patriarchal concept that our identity is linked with the loyalty we owe to our 'patria', to our soil and to our leaders, the owners (in feudal times and still today, in practice) of the land. We owe it to these leaders/owners to sacrifice everything to defend their sacred soil. What would happen if our vision was one where we define security as 'human security". Human security means that all humans have full access to clean water, sufficient food, appropriate shelter, competent education, health care and social services; that they can contribute to society according to their abilities and that there are recognized for their contributions. Human security that is gained and maintained by a community where the welfare of every one is important to all, and where the health of the community as a whole is seen as impacting the welfare of each. Community harmony and cooperation are the basis for a permanent peace we need to develop a new agenda for our leaders at the community, national and international levels. We need to create the conditions that will ensure that the communities of the world have the wherewithal to live their mission. The questions we ask ourselves then becomes, not how to stop the arms trade, how to stem the flow of people displaced by wars and exploitation, how to remedy the havoc created by the latest bombing. More fundamentally we will invest our energies to bring about a culture of harmony, a culture of inclusiveness, a culture of respect. The criteria for success for our leaders will cease to be their wealth, their power, their ability for domination but the harmony, the physical and mental health enjoyed by the citizens of their communities. Leadership is not some rare talent, possessed by an elite. Rather, the varied talent inherent in each person is recognized and encouraged. Healing and restoring the integrity of the individuals and of the community, and not punishment, will be the method of choice for the redress of the errors, the weaknesses that are bound to occur. That this is not utopia is being confirmed also by more and more specific research on conditions for achieving and maintaining harmonious and stable peace. It appears that the extent and strength of real democratic processes of a country or a community are a strong indicator of the propensity for that country to live at peace within its borders and with its neighbours. Prof. Rudolf Rummel ( ) and Robert Stewart, director of the Canadian Centre for Teaching Peace ( ) lists the following as necessary conditions and characteristics for achieving and maintaining peace: Ø Regular elections for the major leadership positions, Ø A credible governmental code of ethics, with a basis in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Ø A national and international comprehensive system of justice (such as the International Criminal Court of Justice that the USA, among a handful of countries, has not yet approved.) Ø A global sustainable economy, fairly shared among world citizens Ø Universal access to competent education systems, particularly the education of women Ø A compassionate health and welfare system When a country has a low participation at the polls, joint with powerful, non-democratic institutions such as the military, the information industry and corporations in general, its claims to being a democracy are much weakened. Its internal and external peacefulness is generally weak. In this situation civil liberties and human rights are often neglected or infringed. The large inmate population in the USA is an indicator of poor human and community health. In our society influenced by, and centred in the Western dominant culture, we suffer from poverty of vision. We have put power, not community, as our reference point. We have a pyramidal vision of the world and of society, with the many serving and feeding the powerful few. Therefore all human activities and institutions are subservient to the attainment and to the increase of power by the few, who are given an implicit right to dictate their terms and conditions for a perennially precarious peace. Its basic value is one of dominance. An operative vision centred on the health and prosperity of the community, a community constituted by humans, animals, plants, air, water, earth, is a vision of basic equality, of interconnectedness, of interdependency, of cooperation and mutual support. Its basic value is one of respect. Its outcome is an all-permeating culture of peace. Here is a rough representation of such a reality where all activity nourishes and sustains the community in its entirety, a community constituted by individuals with recognized and respected rights and responsibilities. <snip> To achieve this, what is needed, in a consistent, wide based and coordinated way is for each one of us to train ourselves and to engage in intelligent activism by: Ø gathering accurate and complete information; Ø building networks with others; Ø contributing, even with small gestures to the development of our communities; Ø engage in systematic public action to demand that -international and national financial institutions be brought under control, -weapons research, development, production, trade and use be outlawed, -progressive taxation systems be enacted, -competent public education be totally accessible to all, -health and welfare system be comprehensive, just and non-discriminatory Ø participate fully in the political life of your country and community; Ø adopt life styles that tread gently on the earth that allows for meaningful sharing and does not feed the two-headed monster of capitalism and consumerism. X X X This intelligent activism can create an ALTERNATIVE and SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY I would take a moment to describe some of the major characteristics that would be integral components of an alternative economy that respects and nurtures life. ) Such an economy would be self-organizing and cooperative; it would be localised and adapted to the specific local reality; it would be enclosed in permeable and managed borders; it would be frugal and sharing; and it would be diverse and creative. There is a number of successful Community Economic Development (CED) experiences around the world who have adopted these characteristics. Their success confirms not only their viability but also the need to have these models expanded and multiplied for the survival of the world and all its inhabitants. Let us look at these characteristics in more detail. 1. self-organizing and cooperative; stake-holders -e.g.: employees, schools, investors, community at large with various means of representation- would be owners and participants in the management of the business, would have autonomy of organization and work in a cooperative mode with other complementary businesses responding to the real needs of the community. 2. localised and adapted to the specific local reality; the enterprise, composed of all stakeholders would meet local needs, using local resources, enjoying (or suffering) the consequences of it actions, in conjunction with the whole community. The most notable example of these characteristics is being deployed in the world as citizens (farmers and consumers) are opposing more and more actively the Genetic Mutation (GM) innovations being imposed by Monsanto and other industries. A growing number of agriculturists around the world propose that famine, land despoliation, water depletion and eventually violence and war can best be kept at bay by adopting systems that are culturally suitable to the specific regions of the world, proven, accessible and publicly owned. This is being accomplishes in large African projects, in East Asia and in India. As an example, the Deccan Development Society is working in 40 villages with 8,000 women farming eroded land using traditional agricultural methods complemented with modern environmentally proven practices. In a decade they have doubled the number of crops, made degraded land productive, increased yields by 50% and become self reliant. 3. Bounded by permeable and managed borders. The self-organizing, cooperative, localised and adapted economy of nature prospers in a symbiotic interchange with the environment, not melding into it, but maintaining its identity. This applies to communities, regions and nations. We experience these same characteristics in our own healthy body, where thousands of different organisms live and prosper and enhance our life, maintaining, and allowing us to maintain the wholeness of our own internal process and to protect ourselves from predators. The rapacious transnational corporations, on the contrary are creating impermeable, heavily defended borders around their 'properties' (offices, malls, inventions), silencing voices of protest. They are drawing these inexpugnable borders while demolishing the political borders essential to maintain the cultural, social and economic integrity of human settlements. They are accomplishing this through international trade and investment agreements. 4. Frugal and sharing. The natural world is highly efficient, continually recycling energies and resources. The surplus or waste of one species becomes the food or resource of another. We do not need to bring examples to demonstrate what we all have experienced that the power- and money-based economy is extremely inefficient, wasteful and exclusive. 5. Diverse and creative. We only need to look at an unspoiled natural forest, or even a small piece of land, or a tidal pool to see how the natural world creates solutions for the most diverse problems, generally calling on the diverse resources of a large numbers of 'actors'. By contrast, we are faced with a society that is more and more fashioned by models borrowed from the numbing homogeneity and uniformity of military forces, or of corporate place of business. CONCLUSION If our hope for survival, for justice, for peace is to be reached, we need an active and involved citizenship, who feels capable to work energetically towards another model of life and action in the world; who question effectively the social Darwinism that we are given as an indisputable truth. We can do so by choosing the "balanced model" taught to us by the natural world and adopted by some of the human enterprises. The balanced model gives importance to the whole context within which decisions are made, takes into account historical and geophysical realities, and projects future consequences, it emphasises the importance of these contextual realities. It requires that the best possible planning and preparation be made, and at the same time, that a flexible attitude be maintained to adjust to the inevitable changes that will be necessary to make to adapt to the complex reality. This model requires that the participating actors bring their full consciousness to their tasks. It is predicated on the premise that intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual faculties of the citizens are well developed and nourished. To be successful, it is most important that we maintain the optimism, dedication and perseverance that come from the awareness that we are not alone to work for change. Let's go and do it, and let's be conscious that, when we are part of a parade we cannot appreciate its magnitude. [Jan: In other words, sometimes it feels like our efforts amount to nothing, but something big is going on and we are part of it! And guess what, some of the best people in the world are with us. We can allow ourselves to be happy, I think!] 70 Mill Street # 901 Toronto ON M5A 4R1 Canada Tel: (+416) 203 1402 Fax (+416) 203 1421 "if you want peace, live peace and prepare for peace"