This is the incredible Introduction to a book by Paul Hellyer written in 1999. Hellyer had been a Liberal Party cabinet minister from the days before I left Canada when the Liberal Party was the party of business. The title is Stop Think, and given its message could have been written this morning on behalf of Donald Trump. It is the most accurate and prescient writing I have ever come across on anything. It may only just explain what now cannot be stopped, but there is still the possibility that Trump will win. This will help you understand how essential it is that he does. And to repeat, this was written in 1999.
Have you ever tried to write a column or a book to say to the vast majority of economists and opinion leaders that they have got it all wrong; that they have set the world on a collision course with disaster? It is presumptuous, of course, but those of us who are dissenters, and our ranks are growing daily, have a moral obligation to ourselves to sound the alarm before it is too late.
We seem to be hell bent toward a world without borders. Someone has decided to eradicate the nation state as an effective political entity and to rob it of much of its power by moving back to the corporatism of the medieval society; this is not forward-looking but a wish to move back to the pre-democratic era. Decisions that have been the prerogative of national governments are being transferred to outsiders including the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and transnational corporations.
Apart from the dubious merit of such a massive transfer of power is the undeniable fact that it is being done without the advice or consent of the people whose lives are being affected. They, whoever they may be, are re-engineering the world without asking for our opinions and without giving us the opportunity to express them in any tangible way through the ballot box.
To add insult to injury, globalization is being pushed down our throats without the courtesy of any vision of what the world will look like when the revolutions has run its course. Who will be in charge? To whom will they be accountable? How will changes be effected? What recourse will there be for the people who believe they have been seriously disadvantaged in the process?
A skeptic might conclude that there are no satisfactory answers to these questions because globalization is, in reality, a smoke-screen for the biggest power grab in history. The wealthiest, most powerful, people in the world have become impatient with democracy which sets standards of conduct and taxes wealth to provide services for the common good. To paraphrase, their battle hymn is Arthur Christopher Benson’s immortal line, “God who made us mighty, make us mightier yet.”
This can be achieved by shackling the nation states; by taking away their right to determine the conditions upon which direct foreign investment is welcome; by insisting that they must admit goods produced under the most despicable of circumstances; by requiring that their land and assets be “for sale” to foreigners; and that their central banks be immune to political control.
The aim of the game is a world where nation states are powerless to protect their citizens from external shocks and developments; where governments are mere pawns in the hands of international banks, supranational corporations and world bureaucracies accountable to no one. To an extent considered inconceivable to many, the globalized world would be a world dominated by power and greed.
No one would deny that there are benefits to international action. Treaties to ban the use of land mines and a World Court to try persons accused of crimes against humanity may be steps in the right direction. Similarly there can be benefits to liberalized and freer trade, but only if it does not undermine the viability of national economies and if the rules include acceptable safeguards and standards in areas such as labor and environmental protection.
Those standards to not yet exist, and the transnational corporations sponsoring globalization are determined that they never will exist, except on a purely voluntary and consequently ineffective basis. No mandatory restrictions on their freedom of action are on the negotiating table.
If liberalized trade may ultimately bring about some positive results the same cannot be said about globalized financial services and unrestricted capital flows. They/ are a recipe for international instability and chaos and there is no existing or potential financial watchdog that can prevent it. The principal beneficiaries of such a system are the parasitical currency traders and short-term money lenders who, like vampires, live by sucking the life-blood from one target of convenience after another.
Yet this kind of system has been the object of the negotiations for a Multilateral Treaty on Investment under the OECD, the proposed Free Trade agreement for the Americas, the Article IV Amendments being pushed by the International Monetary Fund and other venues. They lead to a dead end that is difficult, almost impossible to reverse. Still, the trend must be reversed!
The claim that globalization is the road to nirvana for a desperate world is false. It is the road that will lead inevitably to another financial meltdown, the impoverishment of millions of innocent people and the death of democracy in any meaningful sense. This book is dedicated to alternatives that would lead to a world of greater justice and opportunity for all.
It is not intended to be anti-American because, in truth, it is not. Yet it is impossible to write about globalization, and the imposition of a neo-classical economic system with a track record of failure, without holding the coach accountable for a game plan resulting in injuries to most of the players.
Readers familiar with my work will note that some of the arguments have been borrowed from earlier books. Everyone will find a certain amount of repetition. This is not inadvertent. Some of the principal points need to be emphasized over and over again.
Finally, it must be admitted that I am of a generation unschooled in the niceties of political correctness and inclusive language. I hope that I may be forgiven for expressing my hopes without fear or favor.