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Globalisation is about power control
Posted: Thursday, March 9, 2006

by Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Ever since they ascended to the global power control and supremacy throne in the 15th century, all European superpowers have adopted geo-political slogans to embellish their position.

As the last surviving European global superpower, it need occasion no great surprise then that today President George W. Bush, Jr., is championing Globalisation as America's latest geo-political slogan. This slogan, therefore, completes what Guyanese anthropologist/historian, Dr. Ivan van Sertima terms the European "five hundred year curtain."

In its global power control intent and context, Hilbourne A. Watson in The Caribbean in the Global Political Economy (1994), defines globalisation as "an intensive process that conforms to the tendencies and laws of motion of (international) capital." It "occurs in production, distribution, marketing, exchange, technology, information, telecommunications and other aspects of economic activity." It "demands market liberalization and removal of obstacles that restrict free movement of capital".

He suggests further that globalization represents a political ideology of neo-liberalism championed by the United States government and lending multilateral institutions and agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

He concludes that globalization "is a quantitative and qualitative process that undermines national economic and political borders". Trans National Enterprises (TNEs) become more powerful than governments; globalization "transforms the character of economies from national to global." (p.68).

In other words, the international economic aspects/components of globalization are but a mere glorified, new and improved and expanded version of the "stabilization programme" or "conditionality measures" the IMF imposes on countries that are granted loans in order to deal with their balance of payments problems.

These similar draconian "conditionality measures" of the IMF include: (1) abolition/liberalization of foreign exchange and import controls (2) devaluation of currency (3) implementation of anti-inflationary programmes including (a) control of bank credit, higher interest rate and higher reserve requirements for commercial banks, (b) control of government deficit, curbs in government social spending, increase in taxes and in the prices charged by public enterprises and abolition of consumer subsidies (c) control of wage increases and (d) dismantling of price controls (4) provide greater hospitality to foreign investment/investors.

In addition, emphasis must be placed on enhancing the profit capability of the private sector (domestic capitalists) and foreign investors (American capitalists).

Indeed, the above afore-mentioned measures have not only resulted in the destabilization and/or overthrow of governments (some democratically elected) but also nation-wide riots and social unrest in Latin America, Caribbean and Africa since the 1980s.

Governments that were destabilized during this period include Chile, Nicaragua and Venezuela (Latin America), Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean) and Egypt, Jordan, Zambia, Tanzania and Sudan (Africa).

Countries in which nation-wide riots and social unrest erupted include Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean) and Sudan, Jordan, Zambia and Tanzania (Africa).

More specifically, in March 1985, the price of bread increased by 30%, gasoline price increased by a whopping 66% and riots occurred in Sudan.

In Jordan, April 1989, nation-wide riots resulted in ten persons being killed, 30 arrested, 34 injured and 4,000 rioters burnt government buildings and commercial banks to the ground.

In Zambia, December 1986, nation-wide riots killed three persons, the price of cornmeal ( the staple food) increased by 120% and corn subsidies were abolished.

In the Dominican Republic, April 1984, the cost of bread and wheat flour increased by 35-40 %, cooking oil increased by 100%, price of imported food, medicine and consumer goods and basic foodstuffs increased by 300% and nation-wide riots resulted in 60 persons killed,200 wounded and 4,000 arrested.

In Jamaica, 1979-80, price controls were lifted, real wages fell by 35%, gasoline price increased from J$2.25 to J$3.00 per gallon, government laid off 17,000 civil servants, a 30% sales tax was imposed on most consumer goods and civil war and strikes broke out resulting in the death of 50 persons.

As a result of the catastrophic human costs and consequences of the IMF's draconian "conditionality measures", the Democratic Socialist government of Jamaica under Prime Minister Michael Manley aptly and correctly re-named this multi-lateral lending institution, the International Murder Foundation or the Institute for Misery and Frustration (IMF).

The Jamaican government also labeled the specifics of the IMF's programme as "punitive", "murderous" and a "prescription for the downfall of the government."

In fact, between 1984 and early 1990s, these IMF draconian "conditionality measures" have resulted in 551 deaths, 1,884 persons wounded or injured, 6,108 persons arrested and loss of 27,000 public sector jobs in the Third World.

In the final analysis, globalisation only represents the economic weapon in the armory of the United States to secure and solidify European global power control in the 21st century. Globalisation is the new operational embodiment of the rule of international economic law a la Pax Americana.

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.

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