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John McMurtry's "Value Wars", pages 52 through 61

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Leif Erlingsson
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PostPosted: Mon, 2005 Jul 04 0:53:54    Post subject: John McMurtry's "Value Wars", pages 52 through 61 Reply with quote

John McMurtry's "Value Wars : The Global Market versus the Life Economy" (ISBN: 0745318894, Amazon: $24.95), Part I; "The New World Order", pages 52 through 61: (Page numbers at top of each page.)

Part I

The New World Order


< . . . snip . . . >

Getting the Fundamentals Right: The Global Market's Syntax of False Value Equations

The lock-step of the global corporate programme is not easily understood by those who think in terms of human values. Its fixed mind-set that knows itself as the final solution of how peoples everywhere must live is inhuman in conception. Its occupation of public consciousness continues to succeed by what is not seen -- a covert structure of value inversions that transforms all that it demands into the Free and the Good, whatever its effects, and all that opposes it into the Unfree and Bad.

On the surface, preference for 'the global free market' is dinned into the heads of publics by slogans saturating the corporate media around the clock, and by clubbings, tear-gas and rubber bullets if the slogans don't imprint; but underneath the instituted violence and propaganda, a primitive syntax of value equations is always at work preparing the public mind for acquiescence. Freedom is equated with 'the free market', and 'globalisation' is, in turn, equated with transnational corporate rights to

................................................DECODING THE GLOBAL MARKET ETHIC....53

all of the world's resources. Thus, the question is permanently made to arise against the opposition to this global occupation: How could any sane person not believe in the self-evident principles of freedom and global interconnection? Although the slogans trail in their wake the regulating principles of cultural genocide as their system of meaning, this way of seeing masks the destructive consequences as the triumph of freedom.

Those who oppose 'free trade' and, thus, 'the free market', are by the same value-set inversion perceived as opposed to human freedom and cross-cultural exchange. The only issue for those governed by this frame of reference is how to ensure rapid acceptance of this 'freedom' across human borders. This is the global marketeers' autistic circle, and nothing breaks into its final certitude -- as long as it is acquiesced in. Conformity to the value-set is all the while perfected by media and academic idealisation, whose function is to reproduce this group-mind circle, while repelling all facts which expose its life-destructive effects.

Freedom = the Free Market is the grounding equation of this ruling doctrine and the system it legitimises. The further equivalence of the free market to the global corporate system is, in turn, unthinkingly assumed. What is not seen in these non sequitur transitions is that the free market is, in fact, the opposite of the global corporate system. For the free market in principle rules out the domination of supply by corporate oligopolies and intra-firm international trade which now rule trade and investment across the world. Just as foundationally, any true free market rules out the domination of demand by oligopolist firms' pervasive advertising, domination of public regulators by political funding and media control, and semi-monopoly of public contract bids. Yet these contradictions between the ruling doctrine and the structure of reality are contradictions that the regulating mind-set cannot discern because it rules out reflection on itself.

The grounding equation of the system thus becomes extended to mean an extraordinary and absurd master assumption: Freedom = the Free Market = the Global Corporate System. Conversely, it follows from this primitive regulating equation that those who oppose the global corporate system must also oppose the free market and are, thus, the Enemy to human freedom itself. Consequently, the negative corollary of the grounding equation of the doctrine becomes Opponents of the Global Corporate System = Opponents of the Free Market = Opponents of Freedom. We have seen the genocidal terror for dissenting societies which this primeval value-set has entailed over much of the last century. The world's indigenous and subsistence farming peoples have been suffering it for over five hundred years.

This primitive assumption-set has, in the surface world of global market ideology, many elaborations of substitution and reversal which together generate an entire omnibus ideological programme. In place of 'Freedom', the basic syntax of the doctrine also substitutes for the prime term


'Democracy', 'Prosperity', and 'Development'. One can discern the locks of linkage here by trying to find where any of these declared master values is anywhere publicly distinguished, or conceived as in opposition. Each of these concepts, that is, is substituted for any other in the primitive set of equations. The convenience of ideological defence or aggression then triggers this programme of false equivalences into repetitive assertion.

At the same time, the mind-set inverts, at will, the order of equations so that the following structure of equations simultaneously becomes the automatic and overriding programme of 'Free World' discourse: Global Corporate System = Free Market = Freedom = Democracy = Prosperity = Development. Accordingly, in converse, opponents of the global corporate system become the Enemy of each and all of these goods as invalidation requires, so that the original equation becomes by negation: Opponents of the Global Corporate System = Opponents of the Free Market = Opponents of Freedom = Opponents of Democracy = Opponents of Prosperity = Opponents of Development. Interestingly, these ever more deeply worn pathways of automaticised equation and conversion come to be accepted at the most primary level by even the most vigorous opponents of the global corporate system. They too astonishingly assume that the global corporate system is 'the free market' and 'free trade', and they do this as a matter of preconscious mind-set operation regulating their speech acts. In particular, they presuppose even in addresses to fellow opponents the dominant current equation: Global Corporate System = Free Trade = Globalisation.

Although opponents may not accept the rest of the chain of equivalences generated by the regulating syntax of meaning, they have often internalised these basic equations. In consequence, they assume that what they oppose is, in fact, 'free trade' or 'globalisation' when, in truth, what they oppose is neither free trade nor globalisation, but corporate oligopoly. This corporate oligopoly, in turn, is engineered through transnational investment treaties, and prescribes a totalised regulatory control of domestic economies across the world.

Preconscious assumption of the doctrine's foundational false equations has fatal consequences. The opposition fails to target what it opposes in public, so the remainder of the chain of false equations which the public has been conditioned to assume recoils on their criticism. Because they say they are opposed to 'free trade' and 'globalisation', they are assumed by conditioned minds to be opposing freedom and international interconnectedness as such -- an impossible position to defend. It is as if the opponents of human slavery were to assert in compliance with the slaveowner's language game that they opposed 'the rights of private property'.

These confusions at the base of the mental frameworks of both global market fundamentalism as well as its ever increasing opponents are not permanent, yet they remain an unseen scaffolding of thought that collapses opposed meanings, and thereby permits the lines of the value war to appear as 'freedom' and 'globalisation' against 'protectionist', 'nationalist'

................................................DECODING THE GLOBAL MARKET ETHIC....55

and 'backward-thinking' resistance. The life-and-death war behind the killing fields is not understood until these presupposed moral equations are laid bare in their meaning. Until exposed, those who in fact put their lives on the line for freedom and internationalism are made to look as if they opposed what they stand for. The master operations of inversion and projection are thereby held intact as once slavery too was maintained as the structure of human freedom.

Uprising Against the Global Corporate Regime

The lock-step of the global corporate group-mind is not easily opposed. Its fixed value-set knows its fundamentals as final and good, and prescribes how peoples everywhere must live; it is a totalitarian morality that is ecogenocidal in its systemic effects. Nevertheless, its total occupation of public consciousness can only succeed if its structure of meaning is presupposed by its hosts. In the battles we now enter, the instituted violence and aggression of the global corporate system depends for every step on public acceptance of its contradictions of value-set, which in turn requires that they are kept hidden and repressed from the view of even the global marketeers. Humans are value-bearing beings, and their ultimate ground of value is life itself; but, because the ruling economic order has no life co-ordinates in its regulating paradigm, it is structured always to misrepresent its life-blind imperatives as life-serving. This is the organising principle of its acceptance. Thus, the freedom of unfreedom, the terror of anti-terrorism, the peace-seeking of war are, like the life-endowing properties of dead commodities, contradictions which are generated by the global market system's syntax of meaning itself.

This is why in the face of the mass public opposition to its coercive prescriptions rising up in the streets, the system's advocates are driven to ever more absurd distortions of meaning and fact. In the first instance, they proclaim that the opposition does not, in fact, exist, but is a passing apparition to be closed out of the rational mind. In the second instance, when the opposition keeps growing, they pretend that there is nothing in fact to oppose, since all that the opposition demands -- for example, 'poverty reduction' -- is what the global market already brings. When the evidence is clear that these assertion are false and the numbers of the international opposition increase, the perimeters of armed force to close out reality and its voices grow wider and wider -- until, in desperation at the still imploding condition, a global crisis is declared in which opposition itself is made to withdraw lest it be read as 'supporting terrorism'.

The first notice of the global market system that there was any problem to repress first occurred in American head offices in November 1999. Tens of thousands of people from around the country and the world


gathered in Seattle to stand against the secret World Trade Organisation negotiations conducted by corporate trade and investment lawyers to prescribe new rules for the world's domestic markets and societies. None involved in the negotiations could admit what the new terms of trade dictated -- still more rights to transnational corporations, and no-one else. Among the new rights to be instituted were the rights to replace the world's public health and education infrastructures with for-profit control, to impose the consumption of unlabelled, genetically altered foods on world consumers, to override national environmental and food-safety laws, and to do all this by a general modus operandi of secretive application of legislatively undebated transnational regulations.

From across the country there then arrived 50,000 people who were willing to stand against the effective coup d'état by a transnational corporate regulatory apparatus displacing electorally accountable government with hundreds of overriding plenipotentiary fiats dictated by corporate-state trade lawyers. The politicians and the media were surprised, not only because they had probably not read the hundreds of pages of legal documentation imposing these supranational and extraparliamentary fiats to the world's peoples and their existing markets, but because the opposition was led by people who had studied their NAFTA prototype over years.[116]

Lacking any ground to stand on, the corporate media did what their professional role as corporate advertising vehicles required them to do. All of the opposition to these usurpations of electorally responsible structures and laws was blinkered out as abnormal or violent without once engaging with meaning of the opposition.[117] On the ground, massive police beatings, tear-gassings, and jailings of hundreds of protesters confirmed the intolerability of the protests to the fundamentalist mind-set, 'They don't know what they are protesting against'; 'They are flakes', 'extremists', 'rich students looking for thrills' -- the trivialising abuse saturated the official fields of meaning. The New York Times featured a description of the resistance as a 'Noah's ark of flat earth activists'.[118] Washington, Prague, Quebec City and Genoa repeated the social uprisings and the media and police attacks, but with ever more aroused citizens confronting the escalating suppression.

The final recourse of 'a war against terrorists', specifically to include those obstructing 'the means of transport' of supranational trade officials, revealed the full fanaticism of the global market programme for ruling the lives of peoples. After 2001, peaceful resistance to the construction of still more transnational fiats unaccountable to electorates and existing laws was categorised across nations as a 'terrorist act' to be punishable by long years in prison.[119] The pattern of corporate-state repression begun in Seattle had moved very quickly towards police-state laws within 24 months.

................................................DECODING THE GLOBAL MARKET ETHIC....57

From Trivialising to Criminalising Opposition to the Global Market Programme

The most revealing pattern in the unexpected upsurge of 'the battle of Seattle' was that no reasons for the opposition to the WTOs transnational corporate programme were permitted public report. No article or analysis of the articles of these treaties themselves was then, or since, allowed public view.[120] The grounds of the opposition were, in a pattern with many variations, made to disappear. What the NGO representatives, teach-in experts and concerned people from around the world were and remain opposed to has, in fact, not yet been publicly understood. The systematic overriding of elected government policies, laws and historically won social goods that the protesters have stood against has not yet been even acknowledged. The why of the events is thereby abolished from consideration.

The no-alternative agenda operates on the ontological as well as the ideological level. What the regime overrides does not exist, or is evil. The truncheons, tear-gas and rubber bullets enforce the protesters' nonexistence on the ground by gassed lungs, clubbed bodies and shot faces.[121] The mass media turn the materiality of tens of thousands of people into a chimera with no acceptable meaning, and what stands in opposition into criminal elements, soon to become 'terrorists'. The long course of history behind the social uprisings is severed from the people's living presence, and collective memory is transmogrified into amnesia and passing violence spectacle. Now you see it; now it has disappeared. Political absolutism's familiar rhythm of fraud and force takes shape underneath the smoke and inversions of meaning.

Follow-up protests against the WTO in Washington DC in April 2000 by tens of thousands of resisters were more systematically denied their existence. To prevent their appearance before the corporate courtiers, 100 square blocks of Washington, the political, business and communication centre of the US capital, were walled off by heavily armed forces. Intermittent spray-firings of tear-gas and rubber-bullet machine guns at passing demonstrators ensured that this time the opposition to the ongoing global corporate revolution of government did not exist as even a temporary spectacle before the corporate state officials. This time, unlike Seattle, the no-alternative order eliminated the international public opposition from the entire negotiation area, their interface with the official delegates, and the corporate media presentation of the proceedings. The armed-force terror behind the scenes by the club-wielding phalanxes was not reported, but congratulated by the media as 'restrained' and 'orderly'.[122]

The Quebec and Genoa meetings of the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) and the G-8 would open the ruling mind-set to the real, but not


yet. The mass media in general ignored the entire event of international protest following Seattle a few months later in Washington DC. The world order's ideologue, The Economist, typified the public reaction of the press. It liquidated as every other chain medium in North America the volumes of analyses and proceedings of the resistance and all of its stated historical, democratic and life-protective grounds by one sweeping denial of 'any coherent explanation of why they were there'. The Wall Street Journal went further with the next, larger protest in Quebec City against the 'Free Trade of the Americas Summit'. It did not report the massive protest and saturation gassing of citizens in even one line. To add condiment to the silencing, the protest of thousands of volunteers from across society who risked their well-being to be in Seattle was headlined by The Economist as 'An Anti-Police Uprising'. The violence done to citizens was now not ignored, but smirked at in triumph: 'Despite a few photographs of students being clobbered,' The Economist concluded, 'the police were widely praised for doing a good job,'[123] A new set-point of the fanatic mind-set was moving into gear -- representation of those standing for responsible government and the life-ground not only by first trivialisation and then blackout of their meaning, but by mounting organised state terror masked in a public-relations smile.

Value War: Militarisation of the Market Value-Set vs. Emergence of the Life-Mind

One cannot plausibly assert that this all-levels inversion of reality was merely another media slant. It is a deeper problem than that, one that structures the mindset itself. It is what we might call an internal totalitarianism -- the subjugation of the psyche as normalised perception. This is what Tony Blair's 'universal forces' [see page 13] finally mean -- the occupation of the public mind as the ultimate marketing site. The global market's demands overpower across all borders and cultural sovereignties, including the interiority of the experiencing subject and individual consciousness of choice. What is real and of value within is engineered as well as what is without. The ground of human self-determination itself becomes the unseen field of battle. For the future, as the state compradores declare from the inner circle of the great abdication of responsible government, is already determined. What fights against the global occupation is first unintelligible, and then becomes the Other that is 'anarchy' and 'terror' to the fanatic market value-set.

When the Summit of the Americas occurred exactly one year later in Quebec City in April 2001, the tactics for silencing the opposition and its grounds were advanced further. This time the agenda of transnational edicts to the 32 governments of the Americas was kept a strict secret so that there was nothing to be seen to oppose. A cement and chain-link

................................................DECODING THE GLOBAL MARKET ETHIC....59

wall ten-feet high was erected to surround the inner city of old Quebec so that the opposition could not be seen, or make its views known with signs and street discussion with passing delegates. During the three-day armed occupation of the old city to protect the corporate negotiations, 6000 helmeted and gas-masked men in black armour carrying shields, truncheons, gas-bombs and guns gassed the crowds outside the ten-foot wall for hours on end so that people's eyes were on fire, organs burned, and people's lungs and skin could not breathe through the city. A 62-year-old woman on crutches who gave flowers to the armed retinues was gassed for her gesture, while a young woman silver-dressed and resplendent on stilts as the Statue of Liberty was, in synecdoche of the new order of intolerance, shot down by water cannon. The large tanker trunks behind the wall directed heavy water-cannon at all assembled citizens in a non-stop barrage, while rubber bullets were shot at seated and unarmed demonstrators at will -- 'It felt like we were being tortured for fun', were the words of a weeping PhD student to me. All of this, the corporate media explained, was to 'stop the violence-threatening protesters'.

The emerging walls around the forbidden city of supra-national corporate government had many rings of power. Not only were the new terms of rule kept secret, but the orders for the wall itself were also kept locked within walls, with politicians saying it was the police, the police saying it was a matter for the courts, and the courts declining to become involved -- although it was a matter in which Canadians were suddenly prevented from free passage through the public space of the country's oldest mainland city, deprived of the right to assemble peacefully to petition their rulers, and daily threatened with new weapons being issued to attack any demonstrators who might still appear. They were called, in a telling harbinger, 'anarchists' on national television by the Prime Minister's Personal Assistant to make the matter clear, a prelude to criminalisation as 'terrorists' within five months. Once the tear-gas, the water cannon and the rubber bullets filled the air outside the cement and steel wall surrounding the city far from the heads-of-state meeting, the Prime Minister congratulated the show of force against 'the violent extremists who were trying to destroy democracy'.

This reconstruction of events into their opposite was not unplanned. The burgeoning security forces spent ever more tens of millions of public funds to intimidate the public beforehand -- to prevent their free movement and assembly, to remove all lodgings from the free market, to leave those of all ages who at great expense to themselves had travelled great distances to stand up for their country's homeless, to harass, threaten and refuse entry to all visitors at the borders seeking to stand at the Summit, and to move hundreds of prisoners from the jails to make room for the free citizens the police intended to kidnap, to manacle and


to cage. Yet all the chain media would discuss throughout was the 'violence of the protesters' before they arrived.

The forces of the new order, alarmed that the people still found a way to keep coming, next constructed a prototype cell of a terrorist opposition. They planned a cache of weapons to be found the night before the official summit opened -- to justify the armed closure of the city, and to prove the uncontrolled violence of the protestors before they had appeared. But reality intervened after the evening news headline story of the 'terrorist plot'. One of those arrested unexpectedly explained in front of reporters that 'the arms cache' had been mainly planned, bought and directed by an undercover police agent -- a report that was 'not confirmed or denied by the police'.[124] This was another microcosm of the construction of the 'war against terrorism'.

As the tens of thousands of citizens still continued in the face of the violence projected onto them, another tactic was launched to stem the tide. The most general demands of the opposition -- democratic process, reduction of growing poverty and inequality, response to collapsing ecosystems, financial support for failing social infrastructures of health and education -- suddenly became the preoccupying public relations concern of the Summit leaders. All of the secret 'free trade' articles and treaty that had brought 32 leaders there to negotiate no longer seemed to be what the meeting was about. Now it was a 'democratic clause' that was their concern, 'development bank loans for poverty reduction', 'mutual support for education', and 'connection of the poor to the internet' -- yet the hundreds of actual pages of articles and appendices that were released at the last moment contained no iota of reference to any of these proclaimed concerns.

In fact, none of these concerns found its way into the subsequent text either. There was not one change or addition of binding article, and none that existed even referred to any of these issues. There was no significant new financial commitment. The centrepiece 'democracy clause', in fact, ominously repeated what the US-controlled Organization of American States had already used as a pretext to place internationally illegal trade embargoes on Cuba, and now to isolate Venezuela's land-redistributing President Hugo Chavez.[125]

In the background, the US Trade Representative, academic economists and other shills of the corporate state whispered affirmations behind the Mexican president ('the Fox', as Chiapas leader Marcos refers to him), who played his role of Coca-Cola adman in sweeping slogans of the 'reduction of inequality and poverty by free trade', when no evidence remotely substantiated the claim, and the evidence from Mexico itself showed radical drops in workers' incomes, massive loss of full-time jobs and livelihood security, degradation of working conditions, privatisation of educational and social goods, and haemorrhaging ruin of small farmers. The detailed demonstration of the falsehoods in the alternative

................................................DECODING THE GLOBAL MARKET ETHIC....61

summit assemblies, web-pages and letters pouring into editors and parliamentary houses was blacked out of the corporate press. In this manner, the already determined future could unfold as prescribed by the corporate globalisation programme. But the centre of gravity was shifting underneath the red carpets and court pronouncements. The slogans were becoming unstuck under the public gaze in the long awakening of the citizen mind still narcoticised with inverted images of the world. A new equation of opposites to confront the opposition movement was now engineered to structure future response: Opposition to the Global Corporate System = Violence = Terrorism. Imposition of the Global Corporate State By Violence = Anti-Terrorism = Peace and Poverty Reduction. This is the locked syntax of the fanatic mind-set generating the false equations as instituted public order.

On the ground, the imprisonment of people as creature functions of its global market programme is not ultimately won by jackboots, concentration camps or -- with notable exceptions -- military invasions. It is a totality of rule whose occupation of public consciousness is its moving line of advance, its controlled territory, and its base for more comprehensive occupation. Acquiescence in its lock-step as 'inevitable' is its force of social occupation. However, as the programme for the future is recognised -- to colonise all that lives and exists as functions and detritus of its 'value adding' -- the thrall of empty images and despoiled life conditions comes increasingly unstuck. The life-ground begins to rise within and across the distances and divisions of peoples in ways that that no official force can decapitate. Internal totalitarianism like any other totalitarianism depends on there being no alternative available to consider; but the consciousness of the life-economy alternative is the mind's structure of being human.

[Part I ends. There are two more parts:]

Part II

Unlocking the Invisible

Part III

The Paradigm Turn:
The Life Economy
Principles from
Where We Stand

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)
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Leif Erlingsson
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PostPosted: Thu, 2005 Aug 11 18:52:03    Post subject: Discussions Reply with quote

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