Corporate globalisation or international resistance?
By Rohan Pearce
Behind the facade of a growing "global village" lies the reality of brutal exploitation of the Third World by the corporations and banks of the First World. The mass media tells us that "globalisation" is bringing us together, when the gap between the rich countries of the First World and the poor countries of the Third World is growing.
So-called "development assistance" to Third World countries comes with strings attached: greater domination of their economies by First World corporations through having to import goods from the First World for "aid" projects, privatisation of government-owned enterprises, cutbacks in government spending on subsidised services such as education and health care.
US-controlled international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank facilitate the corporate exploitation of the Third World.
Wars are waged to keep dissident Third World governments in line, slaughtering millions of innocent people for the sake of ensuring that super-rich families that own the big corporations have free reign to exploit the world's impoverished majority.
People's anger over the injustices of the world economic order, both the erosion of living standards for the majority in the First World and the horrific exploitation and suffering of the majority in the Third World, found dramatic expression in the November 1999 Seattle protests that helped block the beginning of the "Millennium Round" of trade negotiations orchestrated by the pro-corporate World Trade Organisation.
These protests have captured the imagination of young people by giving them confidence that they can combat the brutal agenda of corporate globalisation.
With the birth of this movement, the First World is finally catching up to the Third World's tradition of struggle against the onslaught of corporate globalisation.
This movement is a global one by its very nature: capitalism is a global system and the impact of the corporations' profit-gouging attacks on ordinary people's living conditions is felt world wide. Throughout the world, anti-corporate activists have taken heart at the growing mood of opposition to unrestricted capitalist exploitation of the Third World's human and natural resources.
More and more people are learning to view the world not in terms of "our country" and "their country", but in terms of us and them: the exploited majority and the super-rich exploiter minority, the corporate capitalists.
'Australian interests' or international solidarity
The dominant idea which serves the interests of the corporate rulers is nationalism: that the exploited majority in Australia has more interests in common with Australian capitalists like Kerry Packer than we do with the exploited majority in other nations.
The corporate rulers want us to believe that we all have a stake in making Australian-owned corporations more profitable and we should subordinate our "sectional" interests to unite behind the "national interest" — which always comes down to what's best for the corporate profits.
Australia's "national interest" was the justification for 32 years of Australian government support for the Indonesian military dictatorship — including backing the Indonesian army's invasion and takeover of East Timor.
But who in Australia benefited from this? Only the corporations that gained easy access to the impoverished labour of Indonesia's workers and peasants. and East Timor's oil and gas resources.
"National interest" is whatever is good for big business profits — everything from union busting to profiting from Third World debt.
Australia is an imperialist country. That is, it is a member of the exclusive club of countries — headed by the United States — which, through the shared monopoly their corporations have over advanced technology, are able to plunder enormous wealth generated by the four billion poor people who live in the underdeveloped countries.
Instead of and in opposition to all forms of nationalism, Marxist socialists like those in Resistance promote working-class internationalism — the idea that working-class people the world over have a common interest in uniting to oppose capitalist exploitation. Working-class people in Australia have more in common with Indonesian workers than with our "own" capitalist employers.
In opposition to corporate globalisation, we work to globalise resistance to capitalism. That's why we support Third World struggles against corporate tyranny.
We build solidarity with anti-imperialist struggles around the world, such as the opposition by the National Student League for Democracy (LMND) and the People's Democratic Party (PRD) in Indonesia to the imposition of IMF structural adjustment plans. We supported the decades long struggle by the East Timorese against the Indonesian occupation.
Resistance supports ASIET, Action In Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor, an organisation dedicated to raising awareness and campaigning around the democratic and social justice struggles in Indonesia and East Timor.
One of Resistance's priorities this year is to support the Global Action for Global Justice student solidarity conference, a chance for Australian students to collaborate in building international solidarity. This conference will be timely in giving progressive student activists a chance to discuss the way forward for this growing movement against corporate globalisation.
The conference will feature a series of feature panels including international guests and workshops giving activists a chance to find out more about struggles around the world and to discuss what we can do to provide solidarity in Australia.
All over the world — from the young Palestinians opposing Israel's occupation of their homeland, to the students in Indonesia struggling against the IMF — young people are at the forefront of struggles for social justice and democracy. We identify with these struggles and support them as much as possible.
In Australia we don't have to face the bullets of Israeli soldiers or the prisons of the Indonesian military, but this doesn't mean that struggles here aren't important. Australia's role as an imperialist power means that we have a special duty — to struggle against Australian foreign policy, the purpose of which is to increase capitalist profits and ensure the stability of capitalist rule internationally, giving no consideration to the resulting misery and poverty.
We don't have to accept that the majority of the world's population will always live in appalling poverty, or that wars are inevitable. We can reject this and fight for a better future, which will replace imperialist exploitation with global solidarity — socialism.