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GLOBAL DREAMS. IMPERIAL CORPORATIONS AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER


TOUCHSTONE ROCKEFELLER CENTER 1230 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10020 COPYRIGHT ◎ 1994 BY RICHARD J. BARNET AND JOHN CAVANAG H ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THE RIGHT OF REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART IN ANY FORM WHATSOEVER. FIRST TOUCHSTONE EDITION 1995 TOUCHSTONE AND COLOPHON ARE REGISTERED TRADEMARKS OF SIMON & SCHUSTER INC. DESIGNED BY LEVAVI & LEVAVI MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA BARNET, RICHARD J. GLOBAL DREAMS : IMPERIAL CORPORATIONS AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER / RICHARD J. BARNET' JOHN CAVANAGH. P. CM. INCLUDES BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES AND INDEX. 1. INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS ENTERPRISES¯CASE I. CAVANAG H, STUDIES. 2. ECONOMIC HlSTORY¯1945¯ Ⅱ . TITLE. JOHN. HD2755.5. B378 1994 338.8 ′ 8 ー Dc2() ISBN 0-671-63377-5 ISBN 0-684-80027-6 (Pbk) 93-36362 CIP

GLOBAL DREAMS. IMPERIAL CORPORATIONS AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER


14 / GLOBAL DREAMS the Red Queen because it means precisely whatever the user says it means. Just as poets and songwriters celebrated the rise of modern nationalism, SO ln day C()rporate prophets, business philosophers, rock and writers Of advertis- ing copy 0ffer themselves as poet laureates 0f the global village. But much breathless talk about globalization we hear all around us is what the late Clare B00the Luce used t0 call globaloney. The emerging global order is spearheaded bY a few hundred cor- porate giants, many Of them bigger than most sovereign nations. Ford's economy is larger than saudi Arabia's and Norway's. Philip Morris's annual sales exceed New zealand's gross domestic prOdUCt. The multinational corporation Of twenty years ago carried on sepa- rate operations ln many different countries and its tions tO local conditions. ln the 1990S large business enterprises' even some smaller ones, have the technological means and strategic vision tO burst Old limits—of time, space' national boundaries language' custom, and ideology. BY acquiring earth-spanning technologies' by developing products that can be produced anywhere and sold every- where, by spreading credit around the world' and by connecting glObal channels Of communication that can penetrate any village or neighborhood, these institutions we normally think Of as rather than political, private rather than are becoming the world emplres Of the twenty-first century. The architects and man- agers Of these space-age business enterprises understand that the bal- ance Of power in world politics has shifted in recent years from terrltorially bound governments tO companies that can roam the world. AS the hopes and pretensions Of government shrink almost everywhere, these imperial corporations are occupymg public space and exertlng a more profound the lives Of ever larger numbers 0f people. ThiS bOOk Offers an angle Of vision for V1ewing the transformed glob 引 economy. lt is one way t0 think about what is happening t0 us ・ ・ focus on the struggles Of some Of the most dynamrc corporations that are integrating the planet in the ordinary course Of doing busi- ness. While hundreds of millions of people in the world are playing art in creating the ties that bind across great a few th e business enterprises control the human and

GLOBAL DREAMS. IMPERIAL CORPORATIONS AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER


424 / GLOBAL DREAMS corporatlons, and they worry that excessive expectatrons will pro- duce a backlash. But it is indeed true that governments in developing countries (and state governors in the United States) quemng up tO attract multinationals. " The jOb crisis and cash problems in poor countnes are SO severe that any number Of ne 、 jObS' any bOOSt in foreign exchange, is welcomed. Still, the courting 0f global corpora- tlOns has more tO dO with the absence Of alternatives than with enthusiasm for foreign firms. political leaders in populous developing countnes are eager tO attract foreign capital since glObal companies Offer a small number Of skilled jobs with higher pay in many cases than the prevailing c 引 rate, a larger number 0f semiskilled assembly j0bS' and a still larger number oflow-wage j0bs for suppliers or contract labor. Debt-ridden countries need foreign exchange, and glObal corporatlons with 10C 引 export operations are sometlmes the only available source. Develop- ing countries that sharply restricted foreign lnvestment in the 1970S have now opened their doors tO such firms because they see no Other way t0 solve balance-of-payments problems. Other paths t0 devel- opment that they had hoped t0 take have turned out t0 be dead ends. When China, despite its huge resources, abandoned Maoist autarchy, politicalleaders in poor countries rethought the practicality 0f "self- sufficiency. " The collapse 0f socialism in Russia, the exposure 0f the corruption and bankruptcy Of so-called countrles and the trend toward 、 privatlzatlon" and almost everywhere have altered the way foreign capital is perceived. The radical dreams Of the 197()s—mass1ve government-to-government transfers, Marshall plans for the Third World, a glob 引 North—South bargain, the New lnternational EconomiC Order, massive South— south trade—have become casualties of the glob 引 shift in ideological fashion. A more sober and realistic understanding 0f the global power relations now reigns. For all these reasons, the bargalmng power Of governments Vls-a-vis foreign capital has declined. The critics are now confronted by the astonishing srze, pace, and diversity Of transnational economlC activity. The face Of the foreign company has become blurry. Corporations chartered in Delaware present themselves as American corporations 、 it suits their in- terests and emphasize their "statelessness" when it does not. Alli- ances struck between competing firms mostly based in the three affluent regions of the industrialized world—North America' Europe' and East Asia complicate the meanlngs Of domestic and foreign, friend and foe, us and them. Twenty years ago the words "foreign

GLOBAL DREAMS. IMPERIAL CORPORATIONS AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER


428 / GLOBAL DREAMS 1Cies developed and enforced at the international level, the sum Of individual corporate decisions IS, as Ⅵ ℃ have said, determimng the character and dimensions 0f the job market, the quality 0f the phys- ical envlronment, and the experience Of childhood. Ever since the lndustrial Revolution, business enterprises have been buffeted by swings in the popular mood as dreams of steady progress and prosperity have been swept away by crashes, depressions, and the scandals 0f greed. Because the operations 研 glob 引 corporations and banks are lntrusrve, and tO a great extent unregulated, they Often threaten such basic human values as stability, community, family, and cultural identity. If prosperity is widely distributed, people ac- commodate themselves tO forced relocatlon, revolutions in living ar- rangements, and culture ShOCk. But membership privileges in what we have called the Global North are not what they were, and most of the Glob 引 South is in despair. IV. The intersectlng webS Of econom1C activity Ⅵ ℃ have examined in this book make up a global system— ・ a glob 引 system in trouble. P01itical rhetoric these days is vrrtuous, even inspired, but neither politicians nor corporate managers have been willing or able tO make resource conservation or ecological balance central political values. The result has been a bizarre sacrifice Of what is needed tO sustain life, beauty, and the natural order. Every day real wealth—breathable air, drink- able water, human imagination and energy, and the health and de- velopment 0f children are sacrificed for mere symbols 0f wealth, mostly pieces 0f paper and bits 0f electronic data that tell us how rich Ⅵ ℃ are. The human species has proved to be remarkably adaptable. One can imagine different glob 引 dreams that inspire the development 0f sustainable economres and less brutal social systems. The present inability Of government tO regulate and tO manage the economIC system is dictated by political decisions based on a particular set Of assumptions, priorltres, and values that Ⅵ ℃ rarely examine. LiVing a trme Of momentous transltlon—to what we dO not yet kno 、 v—— brings with it more suspense than most Of us like. ln a chaotic and puzzling time, when ideas for navigating the new world disorder are not yet in place, it IS easy t0 become lmmobilized by the false cheer

GLOBAL DREAMS. IMPERIAL CORPORATIONS AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER


GLOBAL THINKING IN A DISORDERLY WORLD / 429 of self-serving political promises 0f better times ahead. Or by despair. But tO succumb tO either robs those waiting tO be born Of their chances. They may well be better able t0 think globally than we are. The global consciousness that could begin t0 build a genuine glo- bal community has yet tO take root within either governments or business enterprises. 、 lOSt leaders are embodiments Of the dominant culture, not transformers Of the systems in which they have risen tO power and wealth. On the eve Of the new millennium, politicians and executlves Of business enterprises all the planet are likely to be punished than rewarded for taking a broad global ap- proach. The global consciousness on which human survival depends reqtllres changes in education, in the way and nurture leadership in bOth government and the business and in the ways we define success. From where then will the political energy come t0 redefine the roles Of government SO that the political and eC()n()mlC systems can be brought into greater harmony and the glob 引 gridlock can be broken? Local backlash against the new world order in many differ- ent guises is evident all around the world. 、 åOSt expressrons Of 10Ca1 resistance tO glObal culture and celebrations Of nationalism' religion, and hallowed territory that we see as TV snippets—militant fundamentalism, wars Of ethnic purification, and the like—appear reactlonary and dangerous. But there iS another side. GIobalization from below, to use Richard Falk's term, is proceed- lng much faster than most Of us realize. Local citizens mOVementS and alternatlve lnstitutions are spnngmg up all over the world tO meet basic econor れ IC needs, tO preserve religious life cultural life, biological species, and Other treasures Of the natural world, and to struggle for human dignity. Because the global eco- nomIC and political systems are out Of and therefore unre- sponsive and unaccountable, people are staking out their own living space. Exiles from the new world order, they spend their lives build- ing the small communities that give their lives meamng, establishing links with Other commumtles With C01 第 1 第 on interests. commu- nities can be based on anything from geography and ethnicity t0 a shared concern for the fate 0f endangered forests and fish. More and more people wh0 are bypassed by the new world order are crafting their own strategies for survival and development, and in the process are their own transnational webs tO embrace and connect people across the world. On dreams 研 a global civili-

GLOBAL DREAMS. IMPERIAL CORPORATIONS AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER


THE AGE OF GLOBALIZATION / 15 technology that are making it happen. They are the midwives of the new Ⅵ , 0 日 d economy. GlObal corporations are the first secular instltutions run by men (and a handful of women) who think and plan on a global scale. Things that managers 0f multinational companies dreamed of twenty years ago are becoming reality—Coca-Cola's ads that reach billions in the same instant, Citibank's credit cards for Asian yuppies, Nike's network for producing millions Of sport shoes in factories others paid for. A relatively few companles with worldwide connections domi- nate the four intersecting webs Of ()b 引 commercial activity on which the new world economy largely rests: the Global Cultural Bazaar; the Glob 引 Shopping MaII; the Global Workplace; and the G10 ト 引 Financial Network. These worldwide webs of econonuc activity have already achieved a degree 0f glob 引 integration never before achieved by any world empire or nation-state. The driving force behind each 0f them can be traced in large measure tO the same few hundred corporate giants with headquarters in the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Switzerland, the NetherIands, and the United Kingdom. The com- bined assets of the top 300 firms now make up roughly a quarter of the productive assets in the world. The Global Cultural Bazaar is the newest of the global webs, and the most nearly umversal in itS reach. Films, television, radi(), magannes, T-shirts, games, toys, and theme parks are the media for dissemmating global images and spreading global dreams. Rock stars and Hollywood blockbusters are truly glo ト 引 products. AII across the planet people are using the same electronic devices t0 watch or listen tO the same commercially produced songs and stories. Thanks to satellite, cable, and tape recorders, even autocratic governments are losing the tight control they once had over the flow of information and their ho 旧 on the fantasy lives of their subjects. Even ln culturally conservative societles in what we still call the Third 嶬 r 旧 the dinner hour is falling victim to television. ln bars, teahouses, and cafés and in living quarters around the world the same absence Of conversatlon and human lnteractl()n IS noticeable as family members, singly or together, sit riveted in front of a cathode tube. As in the United States, Europe, and Japan, centuries-old ways oflife are disappearing under the spell of advanced communication technologies. The cultural products most widely distributed around the world bear the stamp 、 、 Made in the U. S. A. ," and almost any HoIIywood film or video is bound to offend traditional values some-

GLOBAL DREAMS. IMPERIAL CORPORATIONS AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER


20 / GLOBAL DREAMS generatlon ago the sum Of all U. S. exports and imports amounted tO around 10 percent Of the gross national product. TOday it is more than 25 percent. 4 ln the process, the economic health 0f the United states has become rncreasingly at the mercy Of decisions Of foreign corporatlons, banks, governments, and investors. However, the natlon-state iS far from disappearing. On the con- trary, the C01d 嶬 r victory has unleashed a revival 0f nationalism, a bloody nightmare in the Balkans that is a prototype 0f the national- security crises 0f the 1990S. Every ethnic group and religious factiom lt seems, wants ItS own national banner. N ・ ational governments ev- erywhere are getting bigger, but are neither more effective nor pop- ular. ln Ronald Reagan's America and Margaret Thatcher's the size and budget 0f the state expanded even as these leaders de- nounced government and preached privatization. '' lt is altogether obvious that what governments dO or fail tO dO is still important. politicians and generals determine when and where the dogs Of war are unleashed, not corporate chairmen or C01 1 Odity traders. 、 ・ a - tional governments, acting either unilaterally or in concert' still set the rules under which the world economy functions, and national policies for economic development continue tO exert a profound in- fluence on the competltive positions Of particular corporations. But the natlon-state everywhere faces a Of redefinition without a practical ideology that confronts the realities 0f the emerging global order. AS the twentieth century draws tO a close, much Of the official truth that sustained and guided governments for fifty years or more has collapsed and new political visions are in short supply. The re- pudiation Of socialism is Of course the most spectacular ideological turnabout of the 1990S , but the inexorable intrusions 0f a world economy over WhiCh national governments exercise diminishing con- trol have drained other established political orthodoxies 0f meaning and PO Ⅵ ℃ r. Like Lenimsm, Keynesiamsm was premiSed on the idea that national economes were real. Within the borders Of a natlon- state, at least within militarily powerful, advanced industrial nations, government could provide economic stability, development, and SO- cial progress. The Leninists believed they could accomplish these worthy objectives through state planning and a command economy. The Keynesians thought it could be done more humanely by more modest government interventlon in the marketplace, essentially by adjusting interest and tax rates and by well-targeted government spending ・

GLOBAL DREAMS. IMPERIAL CORPORATIONS AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER


372 / GLOBAL DREAMS ican banks. Citi's decision to prepare for defaults emboldened the Latin American countrles to ask for debt forgiveness and other con- cesslons, and Reed reportedly came t0 regret his decision. 21 Nevertheless, by the end of the 1980S the Third world debt crisis appeared tO be over, at least as far as the banks were concerned. BankS quietly began to swap the debt of various countries at discount rates, and a new profitable global market was created. On a given day in the late 1980S a bank could buy $ 100 million in Mexican loans for $ 50 million in cash and then trade the Mexican paper for $ 60 million in Argentine paper, and so on. Citi and its competitors found that they could swap debt instruments of doubtful value for promismg equity investments in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and other places. Citi became the largest debt-equity investor, swapping loans for StOCk in Chilean paper companies, Mexican industrial conglom- 23 erates, and Brazilian electromcs comparues. ln defusing the debt crisis in this way the foreign banks were able to build up global networks 研 productive assets. As the ideology of free trade spread across Latin America, spurred by the end of the C01d War, industries that had been off-limits tO foreign corporations, such as commumcations and financial servlces, could be bought at bargain prices in exchange for wiping away debts. By 1989 FederaI Deposit lnsurance Corporation chairman William seidman was able tO report tO Congress that the nine banks with the greatest exposure in Third World debt could "write 0 幵 100 percent of their outstand- ing loans" tO the largest debtor countries and "remain solvent. ” 24 However, a11 the major debtor nations still faced dire economic prob- lems. By the end of the 1980S underdeveloped countries were paying about $ 50 billion a year more in debt service to glob 引 banks and governments than they were rece1V1ng new loans, a reverse Mar- shall Plan of sorts. The Third World debt crisis was often described ⅲ the press as a morality play, a story of greed, corruption, naiveté, and unbankerlike behavior. But the drama had a surprise ending. The rashness of the banks and their success in yoking the Third world to a load of crushing debt did not produce the collapse of the global financial system some pundits had predicted. walter Wriston, it turned out, was right. The countries all had resources of one sort or another tO keep going, the most important 0f which was the determination Of governments in the developed world and of global banks to keep insolvent countries in business. All this helped the debt crisis tO dis- appear from the front pages while the crushing consequences con-

GLOBAL DREAMS. IMPERIAL CORPORATIONS AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER


352 / GLOBAL DREAMS acted, GATT will have the authority tO remove barriers tO foreign lnvestment and tO override or knock out local laws for protectlng a natlon's lnsurance, brokerage, and banking businesses. The purpose was tO allOW glObal corporations greater freedom tO shift investment t0 any country where profits could be made. But for newly industri- alizing countries eager t0 build locally based financial sectors, the new GATT agreement is likely to lead to the takeover of profitable financial enterprises by global corporations and banks, and financial sectors will be even less responsive tO local needs such as affordable housing and small-business expansion than they are now. Money will flOW tO Where it can count less riSk or a higher return. The GATT reform movement is overwhelmingly a corporate move- ment even though the long-term effect on consumers, workers, and commumtles iS, if anything, even greater than on corporatlons. The corporatlons that Sit on the various trade-advisory panels are ln con- stant touch with government negotiators. AS negotiatlons on difficult technical issues anse, computer technology allOWS government bu- reaucrats in Geneva tO be in split-second contact with corporate advisers. Corporate lawyers are on tap tO fax answers tO tough ques- tions in the midst Of Geneva negotiating sesslons. A study by public Citizen, a group organized by Ralph Nader, found that of the 111 members Of three key trade-advisory committees, 108 represented corporations or industry trade associatlons, and noted that among the corporate members were twenty-four Of the fifty largest spewers Of tOXiC pollutants in the United states. 20 The move toward trans- national regulation Of econom1C activity is proceeding in fits and starts, but corporations around the world are adapting tO regional and globallevels the same strategies for protecting their interests they have pursued SO successfully in national politics. V. Corporate influence over the agendas Of supranational institutions that are in the business Of promoting glObal economrc expansion grew in the 1980S. TheWorId Bank and the lnternational Monetary Fund were the critical pillars set up under the Bretton ・ W00ds system. The Bank was established to finance the reconstruction and devel- opment of war-torn Europe. The Fund had the task of providing short-term loans tO ease liquidity problems. European recovery was SO successful that these institutlons were soon able tO turn their

GLOBAL DREAMS. IMPERIAL CORPORATIONS AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER


176 / GLOBAL DREAMS IV. Viewed from the moon, the Global Shopping MaIIlooks a good deal shakier than iS suggested at advertising conventions and in marketing Journals. Trillions of dollars are bet each year on the faith that a steadily expanding glObal civilization built on mass consumption is at hand. But there are maJ0r obstacles in the path. Despite all the free-market talk Of recent years, trade barriers remain formidable and have been growing. Between 1975 and 1992 , the share of U. S. lmports subJect tO quotas or Other forms Of protection rose from 8 37 percent tO 18 percent. AS tariffs have come down, quotas and Other nontariff barriers have gone up. S01 第 e countries have proved tO be lngemous at locating their health inspectors in places SO hard tO reach that it becomes prohibitive to ship goods there. Global retailers must Often make deals with 10Ca1 entrepreneurs, legal or otherwise, tO lnsure a warm welcome for their products. Often they must conform tO foreign lnvestment COdes they consider onerous. ln the fierce com- petition for shelf space, retailers exact substantial bribes, known in the trade as "slotting fees. " But as the ideological climate shifts in favor of a more 、 'open and lntegrated" world, restnctlons on trade and investment dO not ap- pear tO be the most important limitations tO the growth Of the 40ba1 consumer economy. The specter haunting the Global Shopping Mall is demographics. About four-fifths of the world's buying power is concentrated in countrres in which less than a quarter Of the world's population lives. The real shoppers who can afford everything from electromc sound systems and video entertainment centers t0 com- mercially produced toys amount to no more than 1.7 billion people. The umverse 0f purchasers 0f new cars is a fraction of this number. The competition among corporations based in a handful of devel- oped industrial nations tO reach the affluent and the credit-worthy is SO rntense that issues Of trade are becoming the national-security preoccupation 0f the 1990S. A world in which national purpose is defined by glObal econom1C competition Just as it was once measured by territorial expansron iS vulnerable tO glObal econonuc warfare. The limits 0f the global market are pushing nations into economic and political conflict even as the scarcity Of living space and natural resources not SO long ago pushed them intO wars Of conquest. The success of Benetton, PhiIip Morris, Coca-Cola, and a few other large corporations in developing global brands has helped to create the impression that a homogeneous glOb 引 consumer society