Thursday, July 14, 2005

UNOCAL bid and Free-Market Rhetoric

As I previously mentioned on June 23rd,the Chinese National Offshore Oil Co (CNOOC)has made an unsolicited bid to purchase UNOCAL, a California oil giant. This has sent shockwaves through the business and legislative community in the US, sparking a major debate over the role of China in the world economy. What is clear is that China is presenting a challenge to American economic hegemony. It is about time. The bid has been denounced by lawmakers in the name of "national security". Part of the objection rests on the fact that CNOOC is a 70% state-run company.
This issue is challenging American rhetoric regarding so-called "free trade". This phrase has been the clarion call of politically correct economic language for decades now. It is actually code for American economic imperialism. The phrase sounds fairly benign, and is meant to look that way. But the question we should ask is, "free-trade for whom?". Not for everybody. Free trade generally means the increased ability of the advanced industrial capitalist nations to extend that system into areas previously marginal. To subject the entire planet to this model, and turn it into a productive apparatus. Another familiar, benign sounding word for this is "globalization". Sounds nice, doesnt it? Not nice for the people this process exploits and displaces.

Terence McKenna once said of free trade,"This point in time is a point at which we should be buying less, selling less, manufacturing less, transporting less. And what's the battle cry? FREE TRADE EVERYWHERE! What does free trade mean? It means my right to come into your country and sell you the most outlandish crap, and because it's 'free trade,' you have no right to turn me away". He was right, but it also means the movement of American manufacturing into areas previously restricted. Basically, the increase of inward and outward capital flows. CAFTA (the Central American Free Trade Agreement)will soon be passed. This plan, modelled after NAFTA, will extend the US economic model to Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. It will bring the usual spectrum of effects associated with "free trade" agreements : loss of American jobs, decline of social services, decreased labor power, privatization, environmental degradation, lower wages...the list goes on and on. In other words, despite the rhetoric, the citizens of the nations in question will be worse off than before. Is this type of trade really "free"? Again, free for whom? The rhetoric of free trade is used to justify and extend American dominance in the global economy, but when a nation such as China attempts to apply the ideas of free trade to their economic expansion, America says no. Is this free trade? I dont care if they are a communist monolith bent on world domination (bullshit really, most people know this), it is all the same. If we are in the business of destroying the planet for financial gain, why not let everybody buy into the game? We dont have much time left anyway. Let us push the system (which is no system) to its limits, break all the rules, unify all opposites. In the words of Jean Baudrillard, "a system is abolished only by pushing it into hyperlogic, by forcing it into an excessive practice which is equivalent to a brutal amortization".


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counters
Free Web Site Counter