by Nina Somera*
The past few months have seen a series of announcement of national recession and debates on bail-out packages in salvaging big corporations and industries. Indeed hard times are ahead with the increasing number of vacant houses, lay-offs, and filing of bankruptcy.
But for Walden Bello, senior adviser at Focus on the Global South, there is opportunity for radical change in the current financial crisis. As the latter demonstrates the limitations and consequences of “economic globalisation,” people are encouraged to think and rethink of alternative paradigms for development.
“The current financial crisis and spreading global recession have exposed the dangers of globalisation. What we should be championing at this point are space and diversity,” he asserted. Deglobalisation is among the alternatives which appear to be validated by the financial crisis, that has been characterised by the North-concentrated accumulation of wealth and a monolithic market-driven development framework.
As Bello explained, “The idea is to have a pluralistic system of global governance marked by checks and balances among institutions of roughly equal power, in contrast to the highly centralised system where power is concentrated in the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. Such a system would provide the space for individual countries to be able to formulate strategies of development and trade that respond to their values, interests and rhythms.”
The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) is an emerging showcase of a trading system that accounts for its members’ needs and resources as well as facilitates a less-US dollar dependent exchanges of goods and services. Creative barter happens as the when Venezuelan oil is traded with Argentinian dairies, Bolivian soybeans or Cuban medical services. On the national level, deglobalisation implies a production that is more oriented towards the local markets and that puts emphasis on agriculture.
Bello further clarified that deglobalisations doe not aim to reform institutions such as IMF, WB and WTO. Instead it seeks to “radically reduce their powers,” if not decommission them while strengthening multilateral organisations and for a such as the United Nations and regional economic blocs.
“We ought to take advantage of the current [financial] crisis to destroy neoliberalism. There is a lot of opportunity to restructure global, regional and national relationships,” he remarked.
Focus on the Global South, together with Chulalongkorn University conducted a three week course, “Globalisation and Social Transformation” from 3 to 21 November 2007 in Bangkok, Thailand.
* Nina Somera is the media, information, communications and campaigns associate of Isis International.