Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
Parties, Beyond Elections
time again, and the passions of the multitude sweep, inexorably,
toward the polling places, in the hope that once, just this once,
things will change for the better.
Jobs will return.
The economy will rebound. Schools will actually teach the children
of the poor.
Hope is almost
season, there are people on the sidelines, usually leftists, Marxists,
or socialists, who argue against the worth of such exercises, assuring
us that both major parties are but fronts for the capitalist rulers.
I won't make
I hope to point
to another reality, one rarely addressed in the corporate press,
but a reality that reflects the forces underlying virtually all
of the world's governments, and which are sounding the death knell
to the very idea of democracy.
I speak of something
that I bet neither presidential candidate will address, nor explain.
I speak of the
WTO, short for the World Trade Organization, and because of various
treaties and agreements, a body which has emerged as one of the
most powerful groups in the world.
Why even deal
with the WTO, especially now, around election time?
The WTO sets
the rules that governments follow; and because they set the rules,
they set them in their favor, and against global democratic forces
that challenge their interests. Indeed, *that is why the WTO was
organized in the first place*.
One WTO bigwig
admitted as much in an article for the *Financial Times* newspaper,
saying the WTO "is the place where governments collude in private
against their domestic pressure groups." [Guy de Jongvieres,
"Network Guerrillas", *Financial Times*, (4/30/98), p.
pressure groups', he meant labor unions, environmentalists, human
rights activists, public health advocates, and any community or
citizen's organization which tries to hold the feet of corporations
to the fire of public safety, health, good wages, or the protection
of the environment.
an international commercial agreements expert with Public Citizen,
has written, with her colleague, Michelle Sforza, *The WTO: Five
Years of Reasons to Resist Corporate Globalization* (New York: Seven
Stories Press, 1999). They say:
Our purpose is to document an insidious shift in decision-making
away from democratic, accountable fora where citizens have
a chance to fight for the public interest to distant, secretive
and unaccountable international bodies, whose rules and operations
are dominated by corporate interests. Ironically, the U.S., with
some of the world's most open, accountable policy-making procedures,
is a leader in using the WTO to undercut democratic institutions
and mechanisms around the world. [p. 14]
Wallach and Sforza argue that the world where corporate interests
dominate everything, *even life itself*, is here:
The WTO's manic
tilt toward commercial values is perhaps best highlighted by its
rules seeking to commodify everything to turn everything
into a form of property so that it can be bought and sold.
For instance, the new system gives patents and thus exclusive
marketing rights for life forms and indigenous knowledge.
Consider what has happened in India, where the indigenous population
has used the neem tree for medicinal purposes for generations. After
a U.S. importer discovered the tree's pharmaceutical properties,
multi- national companies from the U.S. and Japan sought and received
numerous patents on products made from the tree, leaving the indigenous
populations unable to profit from knowledge they have developed
over centuries. [p. 20]
One would think that the American right, which has long been concerned
about U.S. national sovereignty,and the American left, which has
a tradition of caring about labor and human rights, would find common
cause in the fight against the WTO and its regional cousin, NAFTA
(North American Free Trade Agreements). Yet, in neither major, corporate
party, can one find an anti-WTO position represented by the offered
for this reason alone, it matters little which candidate ultimately
grabs the brass ring, for, as in casinos, the house always wins.
No matter which guy wins, capital takes the prize, and democracy
takes another blow.
each candidate state a position on the WTO.
Then decide for yourself for whom to vote, or whether to vote, at
2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.