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Susan peterson Gateley
Slippin' & Slidin'
Ellen meiksins Wood
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Key Words In The New World Order
Words that purr and snarl
As the 21st century begins, with the U.S. hegemon and transnational capitalism roaming the earth like the dinosaurs of the distant past, we should take stock of the key words that help rationalize their rampages. Many are heart-warming purr words like democracy, empowerment, freedom, reform, and responsibility, which are applied to arrangements and policies that are antidemocratic, disempower, diminish freedom, and abandon responsibility on the part of the rulers of the New World Order (NWO). But the word usage is effective because the rulers dominate the communications system and are free to reengineer meaning and rewrite history.
These words are linked together, and they serve as important components of an ideological and propaganda apparatus. It will be seen below that the language of economicsmarket, commodities, commodification, free trade, growthflows smoothly into political lingofreedom, democracy, elections, reform, deregulationand into the key words relating to personal behavior and social issuesconsumption, compassion, morality, family values, law and order, crime, prisonsand also into the language of global expansion and the maintenance of global law and order (stability)free trade, globalization, security, ethnic cleansing, human rights, and humanitarian intervention. Free trade sits astride both the language of economics and that of global issues of expansion, and so do other words in this evolving system.
Free Trade and Protectionism
Many of the key words that purr have their counterparts that hiss and snarlfree trade has its snarl partner in protectionism, and market has a set of negative partnersgovernment, government control, and regulation. Typically, the ideological/propaganda system arranges the facts and history to idealize the purr word and cast the snarl word into outer darkness. In the case of free trade, for example, the establishment wants us to perceive the freedom to trade as generally beneficial, protectionism helping only the special interests to evade competition. The Wall Street Journals Bernard Wysocki Jr. states that, The first rule of trade agreements is that the benefits are widely dispersed, the costs are very concentrated and the losers are very vocal (December 6, 1999). Philadelphia Inquirer business columnist Andrew Cassel asserts that trade openness leads to higher living standards for everyone (December 6, 1999). But the support for the trade agreements is very concentrated and opposition very widespread, despite the alleged wide benefits. The majority who oppose are presumably irrational; the big boys who fight so furiously for the agreements are showing once again their community spirit.
The freedom to trade as sponsored by the great powers today is not really free at all; among other unfree features, it restricts the right to trade the patented goods of the big boys, allowing them to capture their monopoly profits. It directly benefits several hundred transnational corporations, but in the NWO this is deemed to be serving the national interest. Protectionism, which serves the special interests, is opposed by the media and economists, except in countries and at times when those who define the national interest feel that they need it. The economics profession follows the flag, like the mainstream media. When industry needs protection from powerful foreign firms that benefit from economies of scale and that work far down the learning curve, as in the United States and Germany in much of the 19th century, protectionist thought and the infant industry argument flourishes. When a countrys industries are in the advanced and advantaged state of the United States and Germany today, free trade theory rules uncontested. (This pattern is reversed in Third World and ex-Soviet bloc countries today, where the loss of autonomy and the influence of transnational corporate money and ideology causes the indigenous politicians, economists, and media to serve foreign and affiliated local comprador interests.)
Free trade can increase income and wealth and provide some trickle-down benefits, but so can controlled trade and protectionism. In one of the great collective acts of historical revisionism, the western establishment claims that the takeoffs into sustained growth of Japan, the United States and other great Western powers, and the Asian tigers occurred under regimes of free trade. They didnt; all benefitted from the dread protectionism. The point today is to deny less developed countries the right to choose their paths to development and to force them into the global market system and domination by the great powers, their transnationals, and their international agencies (IMF, World Bank, WTO).
Basic words in the NWO lexicon are commodity, commodification, and markets. A commodity is something bought and sold; the market is where the buying and selling takes place; and commodification is the process of making into a commodity something that was formerly outside the market, as in privatizing public services like schools, hospitals, prisons, railroads, and parks. Commodification and privatization are allegedly good because they enhance efficiency, another key word in the NWO lexicon. Government and public ownership and control are bad because they are detrimental to efficiency.
As with free trade, these purr words purr and the snarl words snarl by the use of selective history, biased economic analysis, and an ignoring of socially important considerations that are of no interest to the NWO rulers. Commodification of everything weakens government, which can be an instrument of a democratic society, in favor of an increasingly concentrated corporate community that can more easily dominate politics and public policy. It strengthens individualism and the spirit of acquisition at the expense of any sense of the collective. The efficiency advantages of global commodification are also highly debatable: competition can involve enormous waste in duplication and marketing efforts; and the privatized economy entails systematic market failure in its neglect of externalities, which are increasingly important in an integrated chemicalized world that is threatening the biosphere. These enormous costs and threats are simply ignored or played in very low key in the media and by the intellectuals that serve the NWO interests. The focus is on private, not social, efficiency; but social efficiency is the real efficiency for the community and world.
The same kind of bias applies to the treatment of growth, another purr word favorite in the NWO. One merit of the word is that growth can clearly be stimulated by making things good for business, which will then invest and bring advanced technology to the community, with trickle-down jobs and other benefits. A focus on growth and technology is commonly accompanied by a failure to note their distributional or externalities effects. A sufficiently bad distributional effect of growth could result in a decline in human welfare; and sufficiently large negative externalities (social inefficiencies) could cause properly measured growth to show negative values. But combined with a worry about inflation and employment levels above the natural rate, the focus on growth per se provides a word structure perfectly attuned to a policy of serving business first, with others benefitting, if at all, as a spinoff. Income distribution, inequality, equity, externalities, market failure, and ecocide are, if not snarl words, words to be avoided.
Globalization also has a warm glow, implying an international division of labor voluntarily undertaken, international peace and goodwill, and the ending of nationalism, cross-border enmity and war. But war, ethnic conflict, and nationalism have flourished in the NWO, as TNCs, with the aid of their governments and IMF, have destabilized many weak countries and created a whole new order of chaotic ungovernable entities (Oswaldo De Rivero, Les entites chaotique ingouvernables, Le Monde Diplomatique, April 1999). Globalization activities have been carried out by TNCs for their own advantage, without regard to secondary effects on employment and the social or ecological environment. Their power to influence politics has grown with their wealth and mobility, and their success in pushing globalization has been based on power and coercive threat, not truly voluntary or democratic approval. The counterpart word describing globalizations coercive base and negative effects is imperialism, but as that word snarls at something clearly beneficent it has dropped out of the establishment lexicon.
NWO politics is the politics of golden rule. Gold rules by its power over ideologythrough advertising, a controlled media, and friendly and funded intellectualsby the impact of mainly business money in elections, and because of capitals increasingly effective threat to go on strike (by money flight abroad as well as by a reallocation of production and investment to more hospitable environments). Politicians operate within very narrow constraints, and in less developed countries cannot afford to offend foreign bankers, the IMF, the United States and its allies, and the internal gendarme armies overseeing things for their masters, in a now longstanding tradition.
The function of these political lackeys is to carry out reform, which means deregulation, privatization, opening up of market opportunities to the global sharks, and cutting back on unnecessary expenditures on food, education, housing, and health care for the people without gold. (With amazing cynicism, the World Bank periodically announces a new focus on helping the goldless people that its primary policies systematically damage.) Politicians who actually tried to do something for the goldless, like former German finance minister Oskar LaFontaine, are quickly vilified and ousted, but in the NWO such politicians rarely attain even brief power, whatever the desires and interests of the masses.
This means of course that elections have been drained of substance and can no longer effect any useful changes, except for the dominant class and their foreign supporters, as in Russia with its devastating reform process. The function of elections in Russia was to convince the victimized populace that they had a democratic choice, when they didnt have one, and to diffuse any threat of a rational and more forceful response to the destruction and looting of their society. A Latvian-Canadian businessperson explained to historian Jeff Sommers that he favored lifting the prohibition of the Communist Party in Latvia for its benefits displayed in Russia, where people could vote for CP candidate Zhuganov, without the slightest chance of his winning, but providing an outlet to diffuse a potentially volatile situation.
Freedom is a key word linking economics and politics. Freedom has more and more come to mean the freedom of individuals to do business and of corporations to operate without restraint. The political component has been relegated to the background, and Chicago School and other apologists for regimes of murder like Pinochets have long argued that his creation of market institutions will assure political freedom, in the long run. But their complaisance at the murders and terror, and their undetectable efforts on behalf of political freedom, point to the clearly towering dominance of market freedom in their value systems. More generally, the establishments regular support of political gangsters like Suharto, who brutalize and kill but provide a favorable climate of investment, allow us to understand the subtle transformation of meaning of freedom to economic freedom.
As noted, globalization purrs because its meaning is confined to the spread of business overseas with accompanying productivity advances, greater cultural intercourse, and the other good thingsthe bads, the weakening of governments ability to serve their local populations, the disrupting effects, the one-sidedness of the cultural intercourse, the coercive elements, are associated with imperialism, a word now mentioned only within quote marks. In NWO ideology imperialism refers to the colonialism of a bygone age, not to the indirect form of domination being carried out on a global scale today.
Personal Behavior and Morality
Privatizing values and morality has been important for the rulers of the NWO, for three reasons: one is that it gears personal objectives to the aim of business to sell goods; a second is that it helps rationalize privatization of everything else; and a third is that by stressing the individual and downgrading the group, the community, and government it makes it easier for the corporate community to dominate, faced only with an atomized populace.
The success of the business system in extirpating the threat of the ideas that materialism is bad, that The love of money is the root of all evil and that rich people might have a tough time getting into heaven, goes back a long way. But it continues to amaze how successfully the system escapes condemnation for putting personal material gratification front and center, and how with the help of the bell curve intellectuals and media the systems victims are made into autonomous causes of social problems. In our time this process has involved demonizing welfare mothers, who represent a congerie of bads, easily linked to crime in the streets by the black underclass. This demonization helps reinforce the family values ideology of patriarchy, work, shopping, saving, and avoidance of government handouts. In this structure of privatized morality, people can take pride in their difference from the demonized and genetically deprived criminals, who society is properly disposing of through welfare reform in personal responsibility legislation and via incarceration in corrections facilities; and these folks will be only dimly aware that the corporate world is running things, is getting huge welfare largess of its own, and that foreign policy is devoted to carving out opportunities for the transnationals.
The family values people will also not see that their morality represents an abandonment of all that is generous, social, community oriented, and reflective of the strand of the Western tradition that speaks of all people as brothers and sisters. The ease with which they swallow tough love and compassionate conservatismor plain vanilla uncompassionate liberalism (liberals with guts, in the New Republic) and conservatismall of which amount to a ruthless abandonment of compassion and genuine responsibility, is striking. So also is the ease with which they accept the mass killing and starvation of demonized foreignersexpressed back in the Vietnam War era as the mere gook rulein contrast with the unacceptability of deaths of their own military personnel.
In NWO ideology globalization is portrayed as technologically driven, inevitable, and beneficial to all but a few special interests. But globalization runs into difficulties with rogues and others who fail to appreciate its wonders. The ongoing global polarization of incomes, the widespread ethnic conflict, and the growth of chaotic ungovernable entities are not seen as a product of globalization (which they are in considerable measure) but as fortuitous happenings that interfere with the wondrous process. As in the case of Russian reform, the answer to seriously negative consequences is an intensification of their causes. As with crime in the streets at home, the cure is not in altering the workings of the economy serving the elite so well, it is in prisons at home and putting the rogues in their place abroad.
This gears well with domestic policy, where military Keynesianism has long been the acceptable base of macro-stabilization and Pentagon subsidization of high tech industry the acceptable form of welfare. It is also useful to have a large military establishment available to keep the lid on any future internal security threats. Furthermore, as Thorstein Veblen pointed out back in 1904, a militarized society not only conduces to the orderly pursuit of business, it directs the popular interest to other, nobler, institutionally less hazardous matters than the unequal distribution of wealth or of creature comforts, and affords a corrective for social unrest and similar disorders of civilized life.
Nice little wars against rogues bring us together (around our TV sets, as in watching the Super Bowl), demonstrate our high moral virtue in willingness to prevent ethnic cleansing with humanitarian bombing, and demonstrate to the rest of the world that we are the fit policepeople of the globalization process from which almost everybody benefits. Of course, when it gets to the condition of the Kurds in Turkey and the East Timorese under Indonesian assault, we must recognize that we cant do everything, and that there are cases where constructive engagement is more helpful than threats and the use of force. But otherwise, this is clearly the best of all possible worlds. Z