Things are changing
Walden Bello from Focus on the Global South in Bangkok argued that if you look at global political trends there is cause for hope. ‘I think the crisis of power and direction the US is currently going through will continue. Iraq is impacting on the US ability to intervene in other parts of the world. We will see a worsening of the crisis of multilateral institutions: the IMF is looking for a new role, because developing countries are not going to it any more; the WTO is unravelling and won’t recover soon. I hope that corporate power will be increasingly questioned and civil society will create new global institutions that hold governments and multinational corporations to account.’
Just an idealistic dream? Not according to Bello: ‘While it is healthy to retain some scepticism about the role of “civil society” today, genuine people’s movements are making a very big difference. They have altered the balance of power between empire, neoliberalism and the people. Things are changing. In Latin America: civil society movements have been able to bring governments to power who are open to the kind of changes that reverse corporate power. They are providing lessons on how to bring real participative democracy to our countries.’
‘“Technology” is going to be the most used and abused word of the next decades,’ predicted Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva, outlining a worrying trend. She said that states were increasingly governing by military means in order to take land and other natural resources by force.
‘They say it is necessary for technological development, or it is necessary to contain terrorism. But in fact élites and corporations are trying to seize the remaining resources of the poor by any means necessary. Take water privatization: the World Bank is financing the rerouting of entire rivers to suit corporations.’
We have to fight against this ‘technological totalitarianism’, according to Shiva, and create a ‘technological democracy’ where what belongs to all of us is treated as a public good.