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BUILDING ECONOMIES OF PERMANENCE AND POLITICS OF PEACE

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NEW DELHI, Jan 1 2004 (IPS) - The World Economic Forum has designed a world centred on capital and the men and corporations who control it, writes Vandana Shiva, author and international campaigner for women and the environment who received the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) in 1993. In this column, Shiva writes that the rise of religious fundamentalisms, the growth of terrorism and violence, and militarisation and war, are inevitable consequences of an economic system which discounts peoples\’ fundamental human and democratic rights, basic needs, and ecological security. The message of people to power is peace and non-violence. Violence is the means and end of an economy based on greed, economic dictatorship and militarism. Non-violence in both means and end is the choice of the people. Corporate globalisation needed militarism, explicit or implicit. When 25,000 Indian peasants are forced to commit suicide, when Korean farmer Lee sacrificed his life in Cancun saying \’\’WTO kills farmers\’\’, globalisation is exposed as war by other means. When Halliburton and Bechtel emerge as the real winners of the Iraq war, it becomes clear that war is globalisation by other means. The struggle between people and capital is now an epic struggle between life and death. And it has just begun. This is the beginning of a new chapter of human history — not \’\’the end of history\’\’.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) designed a world shaped by the ”Davos Man” — a world centred on capital and the men and corporations who control it. Freedom for the Davos Man was therefore freedom for capital. The project for this freedom was corporate globalisation — a project which I identify as a product of capitalist patriarchy — reflected in the structural adjustment conditionalities of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), the distorted, biased, undemocratic rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the neoliberal economic paradigm in general.

In this world centred on capital, everything is for sale, everything is a commodity. Biodiversity and life forms and genes and seeds are patentable intellectual property. Water, the very basis of life, is a tradeable commodity, not an ecological common or a fundamental human right. Food and agriculture are not the basis of sustenance, or livelihoods, but only sources of profits for agribusiness. Biodiversity and peasants have disappeared to make way for corporate-controlled globalised and industrial agriculture. Instead of healthy and safe food this perverse system has given us GMO’s, Mad Cows, and obesity.

The rise of religious fundamentalisms, the growth of terrorism and violence, and militarisation and war, are inevitable consequences of an economic system which discounts people’s fundamental human and democratic rights, their basic needs, and ecological security.

In Seattle, at the 1999 WTO Ministerial, the paradigm and project of corporate globalisation was challenged on a global scale by citizens from different parts of the world and different walks of life. Seattle marked a tectonic shift, in which people’s power stopped the juggernaut of globalisation, and the WTO meeting collapsed. Diversity and non-violence as the basis of social political change have been used effectively to erode the power and legitimacy of giant corporations, institutions that serve big money — the World Bank, IMF, WTO — and the violence, coercion and anti-democratic processes on which economic globalisation was based.

The emergent social movements based on diversity, self-organisation, solidarity, and non-violence were writing a new chapter of history in which the timeless struggle of people against power was shaping the future.

And when, on February 15, 2003, the largest ever mobilisation of people took place against War, civil society was acknowledged as the second superpower.

And at the World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre, organised after Seattle, a new slogan began to resonate in social movements: ”Another World is Possible”, which displaced the previous assumption about globalisation, that there is no alternative.

From January 16-21, 2004, the 4th World Social Forum will be held in Mumbai, India. The first message of the Forum to the WEF is in the name itself: the WSF gives primary importance to people and society; the WEF puts corporations and capital first.

The second message lies in the systems of organising — one controlled by capital, the other self-organised by thousands of groups. It is in the diversity and plurality of self-organisation that a new emergent politics has started to take shape.

The third message to Davos is peace and non-violence. Violence is both the means and the end of an economy based on greed, economic dictatorship, and militarism. Non-violence as both means and end is the choice of the people. Corporate globalisation needed militarism, explicit or implicit. When 25,000 Indian peasants are forced to commit suicide, when Korean farmer Lee sacrificed his life at the barricades in Cancun saying ”WTO kills farmers”, globalisation is exposed as war by other means. When Halliburton and Bechtel emerge as the real winners of the Iraq war, it becomes clear that war is globalisation by other means.

But there are two dangers that future WSF mobilisations face. The first comes from within the WSF process itself. While the success of Seattle and Cancun was the result of people’s self-organisational capacities and their solidarity in diversity, there is a tendency among some organisations involved in organising the WSF to imitate the giganticism and centralised control of the dominant structures being challenged by citizens, rather than to create a platform to host and energise diverse tendencies, movements, and cultures. This trend risks suffocating the WSF process.

In the new citizen politics the global needs the local, and the local needs the global. The movements that gave rise to Seattle had been built up at the national level first. We are a truly global resistance because the global is reflected in our local and national struggles. A global resistance without local roots cannot stand for long, just as local movements without global solidarity or a planetary or universal consciousness can become parochial, defensive, and insecure. It is not necessary to institutionalise the WSF. To do so is a costly waste. Bigness is the strength of power, the vulnerability of people. Smallness and diversity, in contrast, are the strength of people, the vulnerability of power.

The second threat to the WSF is arising externally, from old style politics based on patriarchal principles and the celebration of violence and fragmentation. The Mumbai Resistance 2004, organised to counter the WSF, reflects the divisiveness and violence of old style politics, which attempts to erode the politics of peace and diversity that the anti-globalisation movements have built over the last decade with their ”live and let live” approach. Our non-violence has been our strength. But that strength, which the establishment cannot take away from people, is threatened by some movements which make violence their main organisational strategy for change.

The struggle between people and capital is now an epic struggle between life and death. And it has just begun. This is the beginning of a new chapter of human history — not ”the end of history”. (END/COPYRIGHT IPS)

 
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