Contributed by Joe Montero
Reflecting on world politics, the United Nations (UN) secretary general, António Guterres, said in a speech he has just delivered to the UN General Assembly in New York, that the world is dividing and increasingly unable to work together.
“We cannot effectively address problems as they are if institutions don’t reflect the world as it is. Instead of solving problems, they risk becoming part of the problem,” he said.
He adds that the divides are between north and south, east and west, and that the world needs aa new frameworks for the financial system, trade relations, the internet, the transfer of technology, and security issues. He said there must be a framework that pulls the world together to do more to tackle the climate crisis and do it fairly, so that poor countries don’t pay the price. He spoke about cooperation in the handling artificial intelligence.
The world is becoming unhinged
There was mention of the increasing resort to war in violation on the United Nations charter and international law and denial of human rights. He called for a broadening of the Security Council so that it is no longer dominated by former colonial powers.
Guterres’s comments are fine, but they leave out a thorny problem that can’t be avoided. All the problems mentioned and the need for new international frameworks have come about because the world is drifting into ever deeper economic, social, and environmental crisis. The impact of this is what is driving us towards and increasingly dysfunctional and dangerous world.
If we want to get out of the downward spiral, we must tackle the cause.
The reality is that the economic and political system is one in the hands of a handful of corporations, and it exists to meet their needs and not that of humanity’s. A byproduct has been the financialisaton of the economy, to where the bottom line for the dominant financial oligarchy is return on investments and not the provision of goods and services. This is profiteering from debt, lowering real wages, price gouging, and access to taxpayer’s money.
There is a mountain of evidence to show the excessive financialisaton of the global economy, growing incapacity to pay debt, and the demise of manufacturing in the west, mean a declining economy. There is just as much evidence to prove that the failure to act on climate, to prevent war, and the other failings taking place, is mainly the result of the power of the same group of corporations and the weakness of governments to challenge their authority.
The image, and below shows comparative performances between the major economic centres. The west is being left behind, and this raises the political tension.
Since World War Two and the imposition of the Bretton Woods system, the financialisaton of the global economy has been led by the United States’ financial institutions and government. This now stands in contradiction to the new reality,
Growth projections by the UMF, which tends to be overly optimistic, provides further evidence of the decline of the west.
This takes on specific forms in each affected country. In Australia, this revolves around the penetration of firstly United States, and secondly British interests into our economy and political affairs. We are a nation born out of a set of colonies, and which hasn’t yet shaken off all the associated baggage. We have an economy dominated by corporations based in these two other countries, running affairs primarily for their interests, rather than those of Australian society. We have government and public institutions that dare not interfere with this arrangement.
It will always be this way unless the stranglehold of the corporations is removed. Changing the way things are begins at home.
There is the same sort of stranglehold over the global economy. The same corporations dominate the global architecture and intuitions such as the World Trade Organisation, World Bank, and more. It is ultimately this power that gives rise to tensions, and their efforts to cling to power magnifies these tensions further. It drives towards greater disunity, trade frictions, and the risk of war. It prevents concerted and sufficient action on climate.
Guterres is right about the need for new global frameworks. If they are going to make a difference, these new frameworks must not be in the hands of the corporations. Nothing will change without meeting this condition.
Change is not coming about because there are still too many governments that won’t challenge the present order. Change must therefore begin within each country. This applies to Australia too.
We can start through action that ultimately removes the power of the few corporations, removes the symbiotic relationship between the political system and big business, ends monopoly practices, starts working on an economy that puts people first and is sustainable. It means breaking unhealthy ties to the United States and Britain that imposes wrong economic policies, involves us in the drive to war and denies our sovereignty.
Australia can then take part in creating a world where the control is in the hansa of a few and the rise of one where nations exist as equals and build positive relationships through global frameworks that serve our shared needs.