AFTER the Summit

The FTAA and WTO Meta-Program for Global Corporate Rule

This mind-locked creed is corporately self-driven and self-referential, and threatens to usurp every level of social and ecological life condition still existing.

John McMurtry

The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is the latest major campaign for the occupation of the planet by the global corporate system. Like its predecessors, it will not respond to resistance, or move beyond dictation of more of the same. This is because its program is structured to be life-blind. Only the rights of non-living corporations are recognized. Only further extension of these corporate rights is in fact implemented whatever the latest propaganda about "consulting civil society", or the crocodile tears about "losing efforts" in Paris and Seattle. All the new public relations packaging means is that the propaganda about "inevitable change" and "global prosperity" has failed, and so it is time to calm the people by agreeing with their concerns, and carry on instituting and enforcing the program just as before.

The world, however, has woken up to the global corporate coup d'etat, and people are taking to the streets, now in Quebec City in April 2001. Yet the corporate media will continue to block out the life-and-death issues at stake, focus on the salable spectacle of a large public confrontation, blame and trivialize the thousands of opponents who are assaulted for putting themselves on the line, and return to selling other images and distractions once the violence entertainment is over.

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The papers were discovered by members of the research group Corporate Europe Observatory, who were investigating a powerful trade association called International Financial Services, London. The researchers stumbled upon an unlinked page, accidentally appended to the lobbyists' website.

International Financial Services, London is one of several British groups hoping that the trade talks can be expanded to cover a wide range of service industries. The proposed new General Agreement on Trade in Services, due to be discussed alongside the other treaties in Qatar, could oblige countries to privatise key public services such as health, education and water. The leaked page contained the minutes of meetings held by the "Liberalisation of Trade in Services" committee set up to liaise between IFSL and the British government.

British civil servants, the researchers discovered, were worried that campaign groups opposed to the General Agreement on Trade in Services were becoming too effective. The minutes recorded that Matthew Lownds, from the Foreign Office, "noted that the campaign by the World Development Movement in particular was leading to a broadening of concerns. ... He also pointed to the need to coordinate business responses to the NGO's allegations." Malcolm McKinnon, a civil servant from the Department of Trade and Industry, complained that the case for the general agreement was "vulnerable" when campaigners asked for "proof of where the economic benefits lay" for poor nations. The committee decided to spend pounds50-70,000 to "counter the NGOs".

More damagingly, the civil servants appear to have been passing critical European Union papers to the business people on the committee, including negotiating documents from other countries, which could be enormously valuable to companies hoping to anticipate hostile positions. These papers, the Corporate Europe Observatory points out, are unavailable even to members of the European Parliament.

So the government, while secretly colluding with corporate lobbyists, has been double-crossing the public and undermining some of the poorest countries on earth. Tony Blair and Clare Short call this process "development". It is not development. It's piracy.

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Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain is now out in paperback.

Around 400 of George Monbiot's essays and articles are now online at http://www.monbiot.com

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