The Trans-Pacific Partnership:
A Global Agreement from Hell:
In Seattle in 1999 and again in Cancun in 2003, I joined in nonviolent direct action to shut down the meetings of the World Trade Organization, one of the most powerful and anti-democratic global institutions this world has ever seen. Public opposition has taken its toll on the WTO, but the US government is working around this problem by negotiating bilateral and multilateral “free-trade agreements” with various countries.
The latest of these is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a secretive system of rules for government to follow. It masquerades as a trade agreement, but is actually a corporate bill of rights. Of its twenty-six chapters, only two have to do with trade. The TPP would give corporations more power over governments and continue the movement toward the global consolidation of corporate power.
I describe this top-down form of globalization in my book, Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization, and I join with others in proposing as the remedy a “people’s globalization” or “globalization from below.” Such a remedy would require a widespread awakening of the earth’s people to the damage of the current global system and to the hope of transformation.
The TPP, like the WTO and NAFTA, would give corporations more power over governments by restricting the ability of member nations to enact domestic health, safety, environmental, or human rights laws that could infringe on corporate profits. With the WTO, corporations must convince their home governments to file disputes against other countries, but the TPP (like NAFTA) would allow foreign corporations to directly file disputes against governments that have such laws, and to claim reimbursement for lost profits, past, present, and future. The position of the US government, which initiates and promotes such agreements, is that we will change our laws in order to comply.
As Lori Wallach from Global Trade Watch explains in this video, “Leaked TPP Draft: Corporate Dictatorship,” the TPP at present includes only nine Pacific countries, including the United States, which initiated this agreement, but it will be left open for other countries to join. Once fully instituted, it could essentially replace the WTO, becoming a binding global agreement of corporate rules for governments to follow.
The text of the TPP is shrouded in secrecy. While corporate leaders have access to negotiations and have helped to draft it, members of Congress, even those with security clearance, have not been allowed to see it. Why? In the words of US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, “In the past…, when the text was revealed, we couldn’t finish it. ” They “couldn’t finish it” because global civil society successfully organized against agreements such as the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in the WTO. Trade negotiators don’t want us to have time to get organized against this one.
The negotiations are secret because the negotiators are aware that the TPP, like all bureaucracies, can only function with the consent of the people. They want to consolidate their rule before we awaken to what is at stake.
There are many ways that we can respond to this underhanded attempt to push through a binding global agreement that will have such profound impacts on federal, state, and local governments. First, find out more. Watch this video with Lori Wallach, learn more and take action at Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.
Need I say that this is a spiritual issue? Everything we care about is at stake. Consent to the current direction being taken by this idolatrous global system is spiritual death. Spiritual awakening and organizing ourselves for nonviolent action is a direction toward transformation.
The TPP threatens to consolidate corporate power on a global level. Now is the time for us to awaken to what is at stake, step fully into our humanity, and take responsibility for what is going on in our name and with our tax dollars. The corporate domination of cultures, economies, and governments can only happen with the consent of the people. Join with me in withdrawing your consent. Keep current on these issues by following my blogs or by “Liking” the new FaceBook page for Shaking the Gates of Hell. Don’t buy corporate rule.