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April 2001

Changing of the Guard?

By Frank Scott

"We are here to show the world that another world is possible"

The speaker was addressing the World Social Conference at Porto Alegre, Brazil. This event brought together international movements, to unify their work at ending the global domination of corporate capitalism and beginning the creation of global democracy. The international signs are hopeful.

How are things here in the USA, now that capital has changed its management team at the White House? Unfortunately, for most of us, it's business as usual.

Our most recent teen murderer created another market surge in hand wringing and grief counseling, but as usual, little thought about the alienating death culture in which we raise our kids. They have a better chance at getting weapons and drugs than a decent education and nurturing care. Their parents are too busy working, desperately trying to buy, on credit, all the stuff they don't really need , in order to keep the economy from collapsing. And their schools are underfunded and mismanaged, given a lower social priority than their prisons.

In the lock-up-and-execute trend cultivated by Clinton and continued by Bush, this kid may be tried as an adult. We remain more dedicated to punishing than nurturing. So? What else is new?

Our military still bombs Iraq, and kills its own along with innocent foreigners. In a series of murderous mishaps that would be laughable if not so tragic, our high-tech weapons have performed like our high-tech markets, exploding on themselves. Nuclear weapons, and other idiotic ideas like a space defense system, are still deemed worthy of increased tax payer expenditures. We're supposed to fear China, with whom we do more and more business, and North Korea, whose people starve while ours overeat. Contradictions? So what else is new?

The internet parish of our market religion has been consumed by its own dogma, and dreams of an eternal boom have become nightmares of an eternal bust. While attention was focused on a fictional problem with social security, our casino owners missed the real problem of a vastly over-inflated bubble of speculative investments in companies that were actually losing money. Wall Street witch doctors advised more buying in a profit frenzy that has turned into a loss panic.

The rich will make up their paper deficits with new paper; those who will suffer in this casino crap-out are those who had the least to begin with. They will lose pensions, college education funds, and dreams of a secure future. Banks and credit card firms got what they paid for; Corporate Congress reacted, not by making it easier for working citizens to survive the crisis, but by making bankruptcy more difficult for them. So? What's new?

Palestinians are still being treated with murderous indignity, while Israel is generally depicted as a source of democracy and civilization, threatened by fanatic Arab hordes. Israel's apartheid policies and savage cruelty to the people in its occupied territories are depicted by our consciousness controllers as the only thing they can do under trying circumstances. Sure.

If we treated any other people-or even animals-the way we treat Palestinians and Arabs, there would be righteous indignation and hysteria among liberals, conservatives, and the community of professional bleeding hearts. But it is still okay to support outright bigotry and murder when it comes to the Arab World. So? What's new?

Despite propaganda about our power and leadership, the global situation is quite different from what our mind managers tell us. We are feared by all, but respected by few, and hated by even more. The material reality of the world is a wasteland of destruction, disrespect and death, and we are seen as a major reason for the creation and maintenance of that reality.

This situation endangers not only the people who live in other parts of the world, but populations far removed from them. Globalization, the current buzzword for capital's conquest of the earth, doesn't only serve to make a minority rich. It has brought about a world in which we can no longer mistreat a majority in distant places and get away with it.

The corporate program to make the earth a massive shopping center, with nations as anchor stores and localities as strip malls, has nearly succeeded in having goods, services, people and animals traded without barriers , borders or democratic rights getting in the way of profit. This program has brought everything and everyone closer together. That Includes the problem of war, pollution, terrorism and disease, but also the potential solution of global democracy. That last will only be possible if the people of the world can organize themselves to counter the dominant organization of corporate capital.

A new US administration, led by a user of democratic rhetoric about compassion to cover his corporate republicanism, has replaced an old one led by a user of republican rhetoric about toughness on crime and welfare to cover his democratic corporatism. There are differences between the two regimes, apparent to those who can afford the time and effort to study them. For those who can't afford it, like most kids, most people in prison, most Iraqis, most Palestinians and most small investors, it's business as usual.

But international events like that conference in Brazil offer hope. It will be difficult for groups opposed to capital's domination to forge a unity that crosses national boundaries, without becoming too centralized. That is part of the problem. But the growing trend toward global democracy is so clear that even capital has taken fearful notice. Democracy is a problem for them, but it's a solution, for us.

Last year's US election meant a lot, to a US minority. But next year's meeting in Porto Alegre may be the most important event of the new millennium, for a global majority. Stay tuned.

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