EU-Canada Trade Doomed to Fail After Walloon Parliament Rejects CETA by Sharmini Peries and Nick Dearden (The Real News Network)
An excerpt from the above linked-to interview with Sharmini Peries and Nick Dearden follows. I have quoted, mostly, only Nick’s comments in response to Sharmini’s questions and observations. The one time I also quoted Sharmini will be noted:
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Dearden: …Now that may all sound perfectly reasonable and legitimate but the problem is that some of these provisions, some of the whole purpose of CETA, just like T-TIP is actually about giving new legal structures for foreign investors and corporations. New powers over our decision making, building a deregulatory liberalization agenda that means that corporations over time will get more and more rights to control and take over public services or be able to run the food system in the way that they want to be able to run it and so on…
Well, Wallonia is a French speaking region of Belgium…
Now a lot of people are saying how dare one little region of Europe hold up something that the rest of the Europe wants to sign. I think that’s the wrong approach for two reasons. First of all, the rest of Europe has been extremely unhappy about this trade agreement. It’s just the rest of us haven’t been able to convince our parliament to spend the time that the Wallonian parliament has spent on it…
So you know Wallonia might be a very small region in Europe but I believe that they’re speaking on behalf of many, many, many millions of citizens in Europe who feel really disenfranchised by the way trade deals are negotiated…
What we know is reports that we’ve had from politicians in Wallonia and from politicians to the European level and from various leaks and so on that have come out in the media. But there’s absolutely no question about it. Wallonia is being offered various things in order to sign up to this. It’s also being threatened. Extraordinary article came out just a few hours ago saying actually you know if they won’t play ball, we just need to ignore the veto in this. We need to go back to the commission, say actually member states should have no role at all in being allowed to authorize this deal and that will get this over the Wallonian objection. So in other words, suspend democracy to get it through. I mean just an extraordinary idea…
PERIES: Nick, what role is the UK playing in all this, particularly given that negotiations surrounding Britains exit from the European Union.
DEARDEN: Well it’s very interesting. We were – people in this country decided to vote to exit the EU earlier in the year. They did that on the basis that they wanted to get power back over our own affairs. I don’t think it was the best decision but nonetheless that was the decision that was taken. But it’s absolutely extraordinary that our government at the same time as saying we need to leave the European Union is one of the most strident defenders and supporters of CETA in Europe.
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My online response to the above linked-to interview (riffing off of commenter 0400’s comment suggesting that trade deals are all about profits) follows:
Maximizing profits is always a consideration, but they are maximized, in one sense, when they are ‘protected’ and less likely to not be prevented or lost altogether. Governments that actually feel and respond to (informed) public pressure are the problem – from the bosses standpoint. Therefore, You need mechanisms to ‘free’ the bosses and put the people in their place, namely a place in which they can’t meddle in matters affecting them. That’s why the experts talk more about these trade deals being about (the freeing and) protection of investment than just profit-making.
Profit-making is certainly a major part of the picture and story in this era of constrained capitalist expansion. Capitalism, unfortunately, has to always expand. Ironically, That’s partly because capitalism doesn’t work, generally speaking, and because with its ripe (let’s say rotten) form of neoliberal capitalism, and the austerity that is a main feature of it, it ‘really’ doesn’t work. People are going without because governments (by design) can’t afford to do the social spending that a good society, namely one that works for ‘all’, requires. They are subjected to what I and others call ‘deficit terrorism’. Governments, at the behest of their private sector partners (Did you think that your votes in elections trumped their influence?), have engineered the revenue problems which they lyingly call social spending problems, that in turn become the reason the cupboard is bare. (Tony Clarke calls that “Perhaps the greatest hoax perpetrated by the media moguls…”) Then there’s the constant clamour from special interests for tax cuts (on top of tax evasion and all the other loopholes). Unfair taxation policies reflecting the wants and desires of powerful capitalist special interests is the reason there are deficits, which (together with media propaganda about inferior socialist approaches) conveniently opens the door to privatization (and a downward spiral as public, revenue-generating assets get sold off for short term funds) and is the reason for austerity. And bosses, especially big ones, can plead poverty due to their inability to expand into new markets (many which are saturated) and their inability to sell, profitably, because their customers can’t deal with the higher prices that struggling companies need to apply in order to tread water, again leading to spiral conditions as workers with meager funds, some of which now goes to providing for themselves and their families in areas where the government has withdraw[n], find that they have little disposable income with which to spend (worship).
And, That capitalism doesn’t work can be seen from the fact that that is happening even when the capitalists ‘break the rules’ in order to not lose. (They are still losing, but more gently than their victims.) There are trillions of dollars in offshore tax havens that corporatocracy governments just won’t do anything about. And we the people pick up the slack. William Greider wrote lucidly about that years ago in his book “One World, Ready Or Not.” In that book, he talks about the politics of escape whereby capitalists would, essentially, try every and any means to escape the rules that we all agreed on and that it was agreed were necessary for civilization to be civilized and they would do that in order to be able to have their security and prosperity no matter what. And traitorous politicians, who, it turns out, were and are in abundance, were the getaway drivers for the capitalist thieves and plunderers in the capitalist system.
From pages 32 & 33 of “One World, Ready Or Not,” an excerpt:
By extrapolating from the relative purchasing power of China’s 1.2 billion citizens, some economists have excitedly proclaimed that China is actually the third or fourth largest economy in the world and can even catch the United States in ten to fifteen years. Measured in hard currency, the only measure that matters in global commerce, this claim is nonsense. In American dollars, China’s Gross National Product in 1993 was about $580 billion – roughly equal to New York State’s, considerably smaller than California’s…
As the IMF admits, its own nation-by-nation reports on international capital flows are seriously flawed because the six largest offshore banking centers as well as Hong Kong will not provide an honest accounting of their banking activities. Money flows out of those islands, but the auditors cannot figure out where all the money flowed in from. “Choke points in the world’s financial system,” the IMF called them.
Big money hides itself in the global economy. Respectable capital mingles alongside dirty money from illegal enterprises (drugs, gambling, illicit arms sales) because the offshore banking centers allow both to hide from the same things: national taxation and the surveillance of government regulators. Major governments, including the United States, are not likely to help the IMF get these financial entrepôts to open up their books since major governments actively encouraged the rise of offshore banking as a convenience for global companies and investors.
Tax havens are merely a flagrant example of a much larger and exceedingly complicated political agenda – the politics of escape. Transnational commerce, either to defend against price competition or to maximize the potential returns of globalization, has aggressively campaigned over three or four decades to free itself from various social controls imposed by home governments. These political contests, commonly called deregulation, continue, and the issues generate great controversy across virtually every sector of public policy, from environmental protection to wage-and-hour laws, from food-safety regulation to interest-rate controls and banking codes.
From pages 44 & 45 of Tony Clarke’s “Silent Coup – Confronting The Big Business Takeover Of Canada,” the following:
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Throughout the 1970s, the Trilateralists developed a common agenda for restructuring the global economy and nation states….
On both fronts, the common obstacle that had to be dismantled was the Keynesian nation state and the international economy…
In short, the pendulum had swung too far in the direction of democracy. The central political problem was what the authors called “an excess of democracy” which, in turn, “means a deficit in governability.” The main culprit was identified as the Keynesian welfare state.
…The solution to the crisis, they said, was a stronger government in a weaker democratic framework. In order to effectively coordinate and plan changes in national economies required to facilitate transnational investment, governments needed to have more centralized authority and be less susceptible to diverse demands of citizens’ movements. The media should be disciplined through stronger libel laws and restrictions put on public access to government information…
Throughout, it was assumed that corporations should have the freedom to alter rules of national economies.
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From (pages 32, 33, 35, 278, 279 & 384 of) Todd Gordon’s “Imperialist Canada,” the following:
The capitalist state plays a central role in imperialist expansion. Capitalist states developed historically out of the struggles surrounding the reproduction of capitalist social relations… The capitalist state – with its laws defending such things as the sanctity of private property and individual over collective rights, its administrative mechanisms designed to manage class struggle such as policing, labour law and welfare systems, and its privileged role in printing money and influencing the financial system – emerged as a means of containing that contradiction, and thus of producing stable market relations by ensuring that social struggles and any other threats to market relations are safely defused, or as is sometimes the case, repressed. (It is worth reminding ourselves too that once capitalism emerges as the dominant means for the production and distribution of wealth in a country that state becomes dependent on capitalism as its source of revenue for its own survival, and so has an interest in ensuring the system’s reproduction)…
We should be cautious, though, not to see the more violent features of imperialism, including even territorial conquest, as simply a thing of the past. [Ellen Meikson] Wood herself acknowledges that “more traditional forms of coercive colonization” aren’t necessarily ruled out today”…
Indeed, you cannot understand Canadian security policy without considering First Nations: Canada’s military and paramilitary forces were in fact first forged in wars against indigenous people. Just as Canadian capitalist expansion begins at home, so does Canadian security policy…
As the pressures of capitalist expansion have picked up in the neoliberal era, so too has the recourse to force in an effort to subdue indigenous resistance…
Canada’s stance toward Israel should be situated within its overall security agenda. As Canadian capital continues its domestic and international expansion we can expect the aggressive security policy developments to continue, both with foreign partners and unilaterally where necessary. Militarism goes hand in hand with imperialist ambitions. Whether it is defending investments, challenging rogue states or intervening in failed states, the Canadian ruling class is preparing for ongoing asymmetric conflicts in the Global South and indigenous territories at home. Coups, military invasions and occupations, pacification programs against people who do not acquiesce with the imperialist order, and political support for compliant countries with wretched human rights records are now key ingredients of Canadian foreign policy.