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<nettime> The Future in the Balance
Fatima Lasay on Tue, 9 Dec 2003 14:42:33 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> The Future in the Balance

That Bello combines the roles of the intellectual and activist validates
the power of the creative act in threading the physical, social, spiritual
and psychological ties of a community in thinking, and eventually
extricating, ourselves out of the oppressive relationship with
corporate-driven globalisation and violence.

 From the Philippine experience, the historical reality of American
imperialist/neocolonial policy may be said to begin with Cuba and the
Philippines (from 1898), to become fully developed after World War II, and
institutionalized by compliance with Allied countries through the
formation of GATT and the IMF (and later the WTO), and the US$ taking the
place of gold as medium of international exchange. Western Europe was
subjugated by the US through the rebuilding of capitalism (economic aid
after the war).  Military might, financial power and the image industries,
in place since time immemorial, would find their renewed implementations
on a global scale. How might one still possess the innocence to detect its
barbarism when in all of these countries that assert their domination over
others, intellectuals are theorising idealist, skeptical, and subjectivist
viewpoints. So the intelligentsia validates the bombing of our historical
and cultural identities together with the bulldozing of our local and
national economies; how they are so terrorized by diversity and
difference!  Those at the forefront of current economic and cultural
globalisation must seek liberation from their own terrors.

Periods of crisis in human history would be marked by historically
conjured barriers between manual and mental labor, in that fissure between
the worker's movement and the intellectuals living in a deceptively
bi-polar world, neglecting and easily hiding way the separation of
intellection, activism and creativity. How convenient it is to either
split or homogenize a bi-polar world and manage us to forget the role of
the triad from our most ancient systems and our most primal mythologies
through which we demonstrated and challenged not merely our privileged
knowledge but respected a "reality" that escaped our ambitions and
reminded us of the limits of how we know. How easy it is to overlook the
barbarism, the loss of balance through the illusion of momentum preached
by globalisation, while we are awed by the reflection and simulation in
the mirror; and how easy it is to be "taken in by love" when imperialism,
education and capitalism are so intimately enmeshed, rendering even our
own experience of hunger and injustice insignificant.

But that "it is no longer a question of an alternative but of
alternatives"  as Bello puts it, predisposes us with an empowering
challenge to respond against a barbaric future, with a deeper
contemplation and internalization of "local rhythms" and reaffirmation of
rights activated by the urgency of our identities and our most creative
actions. This is how we know the imbalance as it transpires from across
the globe, like a pendulum within us, as if of the ancient dragon
seismoscopes whose inner contraptions detected the slightest movement of
the earth. And that contraption will neither be known nor raised from mere
speculation, it will escape the commodification and scientification that
much of our cultures have already been subjected to. As cultural workers,
it is time to use that which we have yet do not know.


The Future in the Balance
Walden Bello wins the Right Livelihood Award

WALDEN BELLO Philippines (2003)

Walden Bello is one of the leading critics of the current model of
economic globalisation, combining the roles of intellectual and activist.
As a human rights and peace campaigner, academic, environmentalist and
journalist, and through a combination of courage as a dissident, with an
extraordinary breadth of published output and personal charisma, he has
made a major contribution to the international case against
corporate-driven globalisation.

Bello was born in Manila in the Philippines in 1945. He was studying in
Princeton for a sociology Ph.D in 1972 when Ferdinand Marcos took power,
and plunged into political activism, collecting his Ph.D, but not
returning to the university for another 20 years. Over the next two
decades, he became a key figure in the international movement to restore
democracy in the Philippines, co-ordinating the Anti-Martial Law Coalition
and establishing the Philippines Human Rights Lobby in Washington.

He was arrested repeatedly and finally jailed by the US authorities in
1978 for leading the non-violent takeover of the Philippine consulate in
San Francisco. He was released a week later after a hunger strike to
publicise human rights abuses in his home country.

While campaigning on human rights he saw how the World Bank and IMF loans
and grants were supporting the Marcos regime in power. To expose their
role, he took the risk of breaking into the World Bank headquarters in
Washington, and brought out 3,000 pages of confidential documents. These
provided the material for his book Development Debacle (1982), which
became an underground bestseller in the Philippines and contributed to
expanding the citizen’s movement that eventually deposed Marcos in 1986.

After the fall of Marcos, Bello joined the NGO Food First in the USA, and
began to expand his coverage of the Bretton Woods institutions, in
particular studying the ‘newly industrialised countries’ of Asia. His
critique of the Asian economic ‘miracle’, Dragons in Distress, was written
six years before the financial collapse that swept through the region.

His recent work has been criticising the financial subjugation of
developing countries and promoting alternative models of development that
would make countries less dependent on foreign capital.

In 1995, he was co-founder of Focus on the Global South, of which he is
now executive director. Focus seeks to build grassroots capacity to tackle
wider regional issues of development and capital flows. When the Asian
Financial Crisis struck two years later, Focus played a major role
advocating a different way forward.

Bello argues that "what developing countries and international civil
society should aim at is not to reform the WTO but, through a combination
of passive and active measures, to radically reduce its power and make it
simply another international institution co-existing with and being
checked by other international organisations, agreements and regional
groupings… It is in such a more fluid, less structured, more pluralistic
world with multiple checks and balances that the nations and communities
of the South will be able to carve out the space to develop based on their
values, their rhythms, and the strategies of their choice."

At the abortive WTO meeting in Seattle in 1999, Bello played a leading
role in the teach-ins around the protest events and was later beaten up by
the Seattle police. He was detained again by the Italian police and nearly
run over by a police car at the 2001 G-8 summit in Genoa. He also played a
key role in civil society circles in elaborating the strategy to derail
the WTO Ministerial in Cancun in September 2003.

He has also played a leading role as an environmentalist, and is former
chairman of the board of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. His 1998 book A
Siamese Tragedy, documenting the environmental destruction of Thailand,
became a bestseller there and won praise from former Thai Prime Minister
Anand Oanyarachun. It received the Chancellor’s Award for best book from
the University of the Philippines in 2000.

Bello has campaigned for years for the withdrawal of US military bases in
the Philippines, Okinawa and Korea, and has helped set up several regional
coalitions dedicated to denuclearisation and demilitarisation, and a new
kind of security plan based on meeting people’s needs.

After September 11 2001, he was a leading voice from the South urging the
USA not to resort to military intervention ­ which he believed would
exacerbate the problem ­ but to tackle the root causes of terrorism in
poverty, inequality, injustice and oppression. In March 2002, he led the
peace mission to the southern Philippine island of Basilan, where the US
army recently sent their special forces. He was also one of the leaders of
a peace mission of Asian parliamentarians and civil society activists that
visited Baghdad in March 2003 in a last-ditch effort to stop the US
invasion of Iraq.

Bello’s current and immediate past roles include: National Chair Emeritus
and National Chair of the party Akbayan, one of the fastest growing
parties in the Philippines, which has two members in the National
Assembly. Professor of sociology and public administration at the
University of the Philippines. Executive director of Focus on the Global
South. Member and former Chair of the board of Greenpeace South East Asia.
Visiting Professor in Southeast Asian Studies at the University of
California at Los Angeles. Board member of Food First, the International
Forum on Globalisation, and the Transnational Institute.

Bello has won praise for his writing, as the author or editor of 11 books
on Asian issues and a range of articles, notably American Lake: The
nuclear peril in the Pacific (1984) (co-authored with Peter Hayes and
Lyuba Zarsky), People and Power in the Pacific (1992), Dark Victory: The
United States and Global Poverty (1999), Global Finance: Thinking on
regulating speculative capital markets (2000) and The Future in the
Balance: Essays on globalisation and resistance (2001). He won the New
California Media Award for Best International Reporting in 1998. The
Belgian newspaper Le Soir recently called Bello "the most respected
anti-globalisation thinker in Asia".

Contact details:

Walden Bello
College of Social Sciences and Philosophy
University of the Philippines

The Future in the Balance

The Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize was
awarded, on December 8 in Sweden, to Dr. Walden Bello, Executive Director
of Focus on the Global South, a Program of Development Policy Research,
Analysis and Action which has offices in Thailand, the Philippines,
Switzerland and India.

Awarded annually in the Swedish Parliament, the Right Livelihood Award was
founded in 1980 by Jakob von Uexkull, a Swedish-German philatelic expert
who sold his stamps to start the fund and felt that the Nobel Prize
ignored significant contributions by many from various fields and
countries outside the North. The awards are given "to honour and support
those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent
challenges facing us today."

Bello, according to the Awards Committee, has done such a deed by "playing
a crucial and complementary role in developing theoretical and practical
basis for a world order that benefits all people." The Committee also
credits his work as a human rights and peace campaigner, academic,
environmentalist and journalist.

Below is his acceptance speech.


The Future in the Balance
By Walden Bello

(Acceptance speech, Right Livelihood Award ceremonies, Swedish Parliament,
Stockholm, Dec.8, 2003)

I would like, first of all, to express my profound gratitude to the Right
Livelihood Foundation for selecting me as one of the awardees of this
prestigious prize for 2003.

I would also like to thank the Parliament of Sweden for hosting these
beautiful ceremonies today.

My gratitude also goes to my comrades-in-arms and fellow travelers in the
movement against corporate-driven globalization, including my wife
Marilen, who is here with me today.

Whenever friends, comrades, and colleagues have congratulated me on the
occasion of this award, I have told them that in recognizing me, the
Foundation is really recognizing the work of everyone in this burgeoning,
diverse movement.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the supreme institution of
corporate-driven globalization, and the collapse of its fifth ministerial
in Cancun on Sept. 14 this year has dramatically underlined the deepening
crisis of legitimacy of the globalist agenda.

Less than 10 years ago, our movement was marginalized.  The founding of
the WTO in 1995 seemed to signal that globalization was the wave of the
future, and that those who opposed it were destined to suffer the same
fate as the Luddites that fought against the introduction of machines
during the industrial revolution.  Globalization was going to bring
prosperity in its wake, and how could one oppose the promise of the
greatest good for the greatest number that the transnational corporations,
guided by the invisible hand of the market, were going to shower the

But the movement stood firm in the face of the scorn of the establishment
during the 1990¹s, when the boom in the world¹s mightiest capitalist
engine steadfast in its prediction that, driven by the logic of corporate
profitability, the liberalization and deregulation of trade and finance
would bring about crises, widen inequalities within and across countries,
and increase global poverty.

The Asian financial crisis in 1997 provided sudden, savage proof of the
destabilizing impact of eliminating controls from the flow of global
capital.  Indeed, what could be more savage than the fact that the crisis
would bring 1 million people in Thailand and 22 million people in
Indonesia below the poverty line in the space of a few weeks in the
fateful summer of 1997?

The Asian financial crisis was one of those momentous events that removed
the scales from people¹s eyes and enabled them see cold, brutal realities.
And one of those realities was the fact that the free market policies that
the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank imposed on some 100
developing and transitional economies between 19\80 aand 2000 had induced,
in all but a handful of them, not a virtuous circle of growth, prosperity,
and equality but a vicious cycle of economic stagnation, poverty, and
inequality.  The year 2001 brought us not only Sept. 11.  2001 was also
the year for reckoning of free-market fundamentalism economy, the poster
boy of neoliberal economics, crashed, and the US stock market collapsed
owing to the contradictions of finance-driven, deregulated global
capitalism, wiping out $4.6 trillion in investor wealth US¹ gross domestic
product rising unemployment.

As global capitalism moved from crisis to crisis, people organized in the
streets, in work places, in the political arena to counter its destructive
logic.  In December 1999, massive street resistance by over 50,000
demonstrators combined with a revolt of the developing governments inside
the Seattle convention center to bring down the third ministerial of the
WTO.  Global protests also eroded the legitimacy of the IMF and the World
Bank, the two other pillars of global economic governance, albeit in less
dramatic fashion.  Anti-neoliberal regimes came to power in Venezuela,
Argentina, Brazil, and Ecuador.  The fifth ministerial meeting in Cancun,
an event associated in many people¹s minds with the altruistic suicide of
the Korean farmer Lee Kyung-Hae at the barricades, became Seattle II.  
And, just three weeks ago, in Miami, the same alliance of civil society
and developing country governments forced Washington to retreat from the
neoliberal program of radical liberalization of trade, finance, and
investment that it had threatened to impose in the western hemisphere via
the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

Justice and equity has been one thrust of our movement.  The other has
been peace.  For we never believed the pro-globalization argument that
accelerated globalization would bring about the reign of "perpetual
peace." Indeed, we warned that as globalization proceeded, its
economically and socially destabilizing effects would multiply conflicts
and insecurities. Driven by corporate logic, globalization, we warned,
would herald an era of aggressive imperialism that would seek to batter
down opposition, seize control of natural resources, and secure markets.

It gave us no pleasure that we were proved right.  Instead, the movement
swung into action, becoming a global force for justice and peace that
mobilized tens of millions of people throughout the world on Feb. 15 of
this year against the planned invasion of Iraq.  We did not succeed in
stopping the American and British invasion, but we have surely contributed
to delegitimizing the Occupation and made it increasingly difficult for
invaders that brazenly violated international law and many rules of the
Geneva Convention to remain in Iraq.

The New York Times, on the occasion of the Feb. 15 march, said that there
are only two superpowers left in the world today, the United States and
global civil society.  Let me add that I have no doubt that the forces of
justice and peace will prevail over the contemporary incarnation of
empire, blood, terror, and greed that is the USA.

Our movement is on the ascendant.  But our agenda is massive, our tasks
formidable.  To name just a few: We have to drive the US out of Iraq and
Afghanistan.  We must stop Israel from destroying the Palestinian people.
We must impose the rule of law on outlaw, rogue states like the US,
Britain, and Israel.

But above all, we must change the rules of the global economy, for it is
the logic of global capitalism that is the source of the disruption of
society and of the environment.  The challenge is that even as we
deconstruct the old, we dare to imagine and win over people to our visions
and programs for the new.

Contrary to the claims of the ideologues of the establishment, the
principles that would serve as the pillars of a new global order are
present.  The primordial principle is that instead of the economy, the
market, driving society, the market must be--to use the image of the great
Hungarian Social Democrat Karl Polanyi --"reembedded" in society and
governed by the overarching values of community, solidarity, justice, and
equity.  At the international level, the global economy must be
deglobalized or rid of the distorting, disfiguring logic of corporate
profitability and truly internationalized, meaning that participation in
the international economy must serve to strengthen and develop rather than
disintegrate and destroy local and national economies.

The perspective and principles are there; the challenge is how each
society can articulate these principles and programs in unique ways that
respond to their values, their rhythms, their personality as societies.  
Call it post-modern, but central to our movement is the conviction that,
in contrast to the belief common to both neoliberalism and bureaucratic
socialism, there is no one shoe that will fit all.  It is no longer a
question of an alternative but of alternatives.

But there is an urgency to the task of articulating credible and viable
alternatives to the global community, for the dying spasms of old orders
have always presented not just great opportunity but great risk.  At the
beginning of the 20th century, the revolutionary thinker Rosa Luxemburg
made her famous comment about the possibility that the future might belong
to "barbarism."  Barbarism in the form of fascism nearly triumphed in the
1930¹s and 1940¹s.  Today, corporate-driven globalization is creating so
much of the same instability, resentment, and crisis that are the breeding
grounds of fascist, fanatical, and authoritarian populist movements.
Globalization not only has lost its promise but it is embittering many.  
The forces representing human solidarity and community have no choice but
to step in quickly to convince the disenchanted masses that, indeed, as
the banner of World Social Forum in Porto Alegre proclaims, "Another world
is possible."  For the alternative is, as in the 1930¹s, to see the vacuum
filled by terrorists, demagogues of the religious and secular Right, and
the purveyors of irrationality and nihilism.

The future, dear friends, is in the balance.  Thank you.

-- Texts by Walden Bello

Focus on the Global South (FOCUS)
c/o CUSRI, Chulalongkorn University
Bangkok 10330 THAILAND
Tel: 662 218 7363/7364/7365/7383
Fax: 662 255 9976
Mobile: +6695215702 (in bangkok)
         +639167860215 (in manila)
Email: marylou {AT} focusweb.org
Website: www.focusweb.org

Fátima Lasay http://digitalmedia.upd.edu.ph/digiteer/

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