type of globalization and how should
the world be governed?
Memo presenting the problem
The form of globalization that predominates
today – through the economic-financial ideology it develops,
the concentration of political and military power that it generates
and the project that it promotes for a culturally uniform society
where absolutely everything is for sale – is now confronted
by a movement of resistance, and protestation and by civil society
which is seeking alternatives.
This is a symbolic subject for the World Social
Forum, which, when all is said and done, has lasted and is developing
thanks to the support of many social actors everywhere who believe
that "another world is possible". In its own way the
World Social Forum is also part of a global movement. However,
is it another form of globalization or "deglobalization"?
What world order is required to combat exclusion, social inequality
and the destruction of the environment? What world order is needed
for sustainable and democratic development? Is social and democratic
globalization necessary and possible?
For the single track thinking of neo-liberalism,
there is no alternative to economic-financial globalization except
more of the same thing. It is inspired by free market fundamentalism,
which fuels other forms of equally threatening fundamentalism
and intolerance. The negation intrinsic to both the inevitable
nature of such globalization and the fundamentalist reactions
it stirs, have given rise to a movement that relies on the driving
force of community participation, capable of molding the political
and economic power of real societies, based on another type of
globalization and another world. The magnitude and strength of
this movement and the contradictions and dead-ends involved in
the debate taking place within civil society on the world order
can no longer be ignored. However, since the dominant form of
globalization is essentially based on antidemocratic premises,
market supremacy and economic interests to the detriment of human
rights, the issue is not simply a question of democratizing globalization.
What must be asked is: Is it possible to build citizenship and
global democracy as alternatives and how can they be achieved?
The current economic and political crisis
reveals the limits of the existing multilateral system, with increasing
unilateralist action and imperialist practices that promote the
hegemony of certain nations.
Here, we are confronted by the critical question
of institutions and the deregulation of political processes at
global level. A central point of this issue is the dialectic of
the relations between global power, multi-centrality and nation-states
as the condition for participatory democracy, a democracy that
promotes human freedom and dignity for everyone according to their
identity, needs and desires. Democracy necessarily implies breaking
down this centralizing logic of power of whatever form in favor
of solutions more adapted to the diversity and situations of different
populations. At the same time, however, a global democratic pact
is required as the condition for preserving such an order. Thus,
even if very localized, democratic renewal must take on a universal
dimension that in turn implies an adequate global order.
In practice, we are confronted by a growing world
order that runs counter to the democratic pact for reinventing
democracy. The round of major UN conferences proved incapable
of generating new forms of institutions and dynamizing international
relations. Its failure highlights the limits of the UN as a multilateral
organization and as the basis for global governance. More often
than not, the imperialist unilateralism of the most hegemonic
country wins; its continual call for military action fuels a strategy
of terror and war. What can be done to reverse this trend of terror?
From the democratic point of view, the main problem
of the UN is twofold: it is gradually losing its legitimacy and
power to regulate the world's problems. The General Assembly is
composed of governments rather than of peoples. The most representative
parliaments and the institutions, those closest to the people,
do not have access to the UN. The Security Council holds more
power than the General Assembly and depends on the right of veto
of five members. The WTO and the Bretton Woods institutions are
not under the authority of the UN and hold more power than it.
International bodies with no links whatsoever with the UN and
which are completely undemocratic – such as the G8 –
have more influence over globalization than the UN itself. The
United States takes a unilateralist strategy that places in doubt
even the possibility of a democratic world order.
How is it possible to reforge and revitalize
the UN democratically in a way that the world needs? Is it possible
to abolish the power of veto? How is possible to subordinate the
Security Council to the General Assembly? Likewise, we must find
ways giving the General Assembly effective power over the WTO
and the Bretton Woods institutions. It does not seem that the
"Global Compact" is the strategy needed to make the
UN become the organ of global democratic pact, essential for social
globalization. Is a World Parliament viable? Is it possible and
advisable to make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, completed
by the Convention of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and
by all the new Environmental Rights, the basic reference of the
World Constitution for social and democratic globalization? What
alternatives exist today to reform the UN in this direction?
Radical reform of the WTO, WB and IMF are
needed for another type of globalization
The World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund are global public institutions that are fundamentally anti-democratic.
Power within them is determined by the amount of capital owned
by their member countries, concentrated in the hands of the United
States, the European Union and Japan. In practice, they operate
like extensions of the Treasury Department of the American government.
These are the institutions that give birth to policies such as
the “Washington Consensus” and others for Third World
countries in the framework of globalization. By imposing such
policies on countries subject to the perversity of their external
debt and financial speculation, these institutions have effectively
transferred the power of national governments to formulate macro-economic
policies to themselves.
The WTO is composed of member states represented
by their respective governments, each having the same voting rights.
In practice, the WTO operates as a bargaining center much more
than as a place of consensus and consultation, where the interests
of the dominant economies and governments prevail. This is the
most recent and powerful multilateral institution for promoting
globalization. It is the WTO that defines the basics of globalization
by giving supremacy to commercial law and making the merchandising
of all relations the ultimate horizon.
The World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund undermine the very system of the UN. Its reform depends on
a new global consensus in which the laws of the market and capital
cannot take precedence over Human Rights and the Rights of Peoples.
In reality, such institutions do not possess the least legitimacy
when compared with the movements and organizations that demand
"another world". It is precisely civil society movements
that highlight and criticize such institutions. How can these
institutions be reformed to make democratic world governance viable?
What actions must be taken to make these necessary changes and
get them onto the global agenda?