Come in Goblin Market, your time is up...
Come in Goblin Market, your time is up...
by Toni Solo
"I feel no confidence that countries, apart from ourselves and those seated around this table, can deal with this problem completely seriously. I don't see the Americans helping us, nor do I see the Europeans helping us and in fact, on many occasions when they bring programmes for diversification, for agricultural production and so on, they perpetrate a fraud on people, raising expectations, and there are many, for the small contributions they make."
Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Managua, May 7th
We go to news media for all kinds of information - weather reports, sports results, financial information, law reports, travel information - as well as general news. We tend to believe what the media tell us because if they were to misreport routine facts no one would give them the time of day and they would go bust. People tend to assume an accurate news source for the weather is likely to be reasonably accurate about other things too, say, events in Venezuela, Lebanon or Palestine.
Another reason for people to trust the corporate media is that the reporters and writers seem just like them, ordinary individuals struggling to cope with the vagaries of an unpredictable world. They prize normality. Normality for people in Western Bloc countries consists generally of abundance and ease. That abundance and ease facilitates the liberal humanitarian self-image, honest, tolerant of diversity, seeking pacific resolution of conflicts, showing decent concern for vulnerable people and an abhorrence of cruelty.
Corporate news media exploit people's misplaced trust by reporting the hypocritical, sadistic status quo imposed by Western Bloc governments as if it were normal and with the necessary bias to render it so. Now, the propaganda war is intensifying as corporate globalization's goblin market faces a serious interruption, if not an end, to the unquestioned abundance and ease. The propaganda intensification is both explained and signalled by a concentration of corporate control of news media and by their obvious identification with political power
Goblin Market and Dorian Gray
An acute psychological image from Western Bloc imperialism's high tide, Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market", tells how inexperience can be fatally seduced by false promises of luxurious enjoyment and excess. Rossetti wrote Goblin Market in 1862, just a few years after Britain forced open China's markets with the Second Opium War and reinforced its control of India by defeating what it dubbed the Mutiny. The effects of the Irish famine were still recent. In Britain itself, poverty and injustice provided endless subject matter for Dickens, George Eliot and their contemporaries.
Consciously or not, Rossetti's moral point is unlikely to have excluded religious misgivings about imperialist crimes abroad and grotesque capitalist exploitation at home. Like Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" published in 1891, another deep European testament around the motif of narcissism, "Goblin Market" has extraordinary resonance now. As corporate consumer capitalism fails to deliver luscious, juicy, forever young prosperity, people in Western Bloc countries turn against the leading lights that failed. Prominent among the casualties is British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Kinds of "wanting" worth wanting
As the UK's official economic fixer, Brown apparently used to joke that there are two kinds of Chancellors of the Exchequer : the ones that fail and the ones that get out in time. Brown's doppelganger, supreme war crime aggressor Tony Blair, clearly took the joke to heart. He stiffed Brown, leaving him as the fall guy holding the bitter dregs of New Labour's wretched legacy.
Conventionally, commentators in the UK, while criticising Brown, give him credit for seeking solutions to world poverty about which he is alleged to care passionately. Brown may want to reduce poverty, but certainly without prejudicing the power and privilege of the interests he represents. What kind of edge does that give "want" in such a case? A forever-postponed wish? A wistful sigh? A meaningless public relations gesture? The Gleneagles G8 "Make Poverty History" fiasco suggests the latter.
Western Bloc corporate mainstream journalists seem to have no idea how their countries' governments and their political leadership look from outside the corporate capitalist bubble. Just one day's worth of Western Bloc country war expenditures would be enough to transform healthcare and education in a couple of dozen impoverished countries. But no sign exists of any determined effort to shift priorities away from the standard imperialist agenda of economic domination and military aggression. Talk of poverty reduction from G7 leaders has consistently turned out to be insincere froth.
The picture of corporate media imperialism
Following Oscar Wilde, one would have to have a heart of stone not to be stolidly indifferent to the plight of Gordon Brown. He, Tony Blair and their G7 accomplices continued the genocidal sanctions regime against Iraq despite knowing its devastating effects on hundreds of thousands of children. Contrast their manipulation of events in Tibet with their complicity in the vast human catastrophe in the Congo. They have consistently supported Israel's creeping genocide against the Palestinians.
They colluded deliberately to destroy the viability of Jean Bertrand Aristide's government in Haiti and finally to engineer a murderous coup. They support a narco-paramilitary regime in Colombia that has overseen the displacement of around 4 million people from rural areas. The same number of people have been displaced in Iraq as a result of the US-uk criminal war of aggression.
More than a decade of "free trade" arrangements with Canada and the United States have wrecked Mexico's rural economy. There too, millions of people have been displaced by the greedy economic policies of corporatist Western Bloc imperialism. Mexican society has been blighted and corrupted by the criminal organization necessary to satisfy Western Bloc societies' drug habits and their corporate financial institutions' readiness to process billion-dollar drug profits.
At the same time corporate news writers assure us that Gordon Brown wants to reduce world poverty, their colleagues spread reports suggesting that the governments of Venezuela and Cuba have failed their peoples. But it is countries like Colombia and Mexico that have conspicuously failed. The corporate media reinforce Western Bloc messages that Hizbollah and Hamas threaten regional stability. But it is Israel that has consistently destabilised the region with its relentless military aggression. The corporate media cast Iran as the aggressive influence destabilising Iraq. But it is the Western Bloc countries who invaded Iraq.
Faced with such forever young duplicity, the banal spectacle of mainstream corporate media journalists writing Gordon Brown's political obituary is almost completely irrelevant. Brown and his G7 cronies and the media journalists who parasitically infest them, are all variations on Dorian Gray, flouncing about in a plunging goblin market. Occasionally the masks slip and one gets glimpses of reality.
People-trafficker-in-chief King Juan Carlos W. Bush is responsible for US forces having purchased innocent people in Afghanistan to torture and imprison. G7 leaders colluded in that and in the torture flights called "extraordinary rendition" involving hundreds of other individuals. They collaborate in the massacres of civilians carried out regularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. Their military expeditions are as flawed as their stumbling economies.
Managua food security summit
As the G7 frauds posture, the only people likely to do anything significant about reducing world poverty are political leaders whose governments depend for their support on their countries' impoverished majorities. Cue an important food security summit involving the leaders of Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Haiti, Honduras and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Also participating were high level delegations from Venezuela, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Belize and Panama. This important meeting went almost completely unreported in the corporate mainstream media.
Among the various leaders speaking at the summit in Managua on May 7th, Haitian Prime Minister Rene Preval said:
"For me this is an opportunity to thank CARICOM, via the President of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and it is is also a chance to thank Venezuela for immediately sending aid, as well as other countries who helped us too..... Venezuela has sent us, free of cost, fifteen thousand tons of urea and we are currently unloading 50 tractors donated by Venezuela. ... We can no longer wait and see the feeding of our countries left dependent on rich countries. We have to build solidarity between our countries to guarantee our food production."
Preval also pointed to the connection between the worsening effects of climate change, such as the increased frequency of hurricanes, and food production and the consequent need for increased regional coordination and solidarity. Following Preval, speaker after speaker pointed to the hypocrisies and contradictions of European and North American policies on trade, environment and military spending.
Even Oscar Arias, President of Costa Rica, a decided ally of the United States government remarked, " ...again we are talking, for example, of discrepancies and contradictions as large as spending US$70bn or US$75bn on development aid while the world spends US$1.3 trillion on weapons and soldiers with just one country, as we all know, the United States, with half that expenditure!"
Arias also noted that various countries in the region have made progress towards the Millenium Goals for reducing poverty. He had the intellectual honesty to point out that the country most successful in meeting those goals is Cuba. He said, " And that just shows us that in Cuba, the objectives are clear; that they have decided priorities answering to an ethic, namely to help the Cuban people satisfy their population's most basic needs."
Honduran President Manuel Zelaya observed, "The contradictions of the international model made us take on faith that the industrial economies were gathering their surpluses to put into agriculture and make agriculture profitable for their economies while breaking our producers, but opening a space for consumers to get cheap food from the industrialised countries. What resulted was a false illusion : we were given to trust that globalization of international markets was going to solve the energy problem, the food problem, the development problem - but what it did was make things worse!"
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said, "The problem is not a lack of resources, the problem is not technical limitations, the problem is the terribly unequal distribution of wealth and the perverse systems that perpetuate those stuctures instead of trying to correct them...... It is supposed that the market system guarantees optimum allocation of resources...but what optimum allocation are we talking about if, after 20 years of dogmatically applying neoliberal market theory, we have food shortages in countries with tremendous potential for agricultural production? Something is wrong, very wrong! And we have to confront it and correct it."
Despite their willingness to participate in coordinating responses to the food crisis, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama are absent from the signatories of the joint declaration. Oscar Arias said he had "conceptual differences with some of what it says here, not just in the Considerations, but in the Agreements. Certain value judgements are expressed which I don't share and for that reason prefer to exclude myself." In fact much of the final declaration reads like notes from a work in progress, which, really, it is - the sovereign solidarity based integration of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Among many themes covered in the discussions prior to the final declaration were an increased role for the state in guaranteeing food production, an obligatory increase of private sector finance for agriculture, reactivation of land reform processes in favour of small and medium producers, sustainable exploitation of marine resources, security of land tenure and improved communications infrastructure. The final declaration itself made clear that while the summit had been called to face the current food security crisis, participants see it as helping to coordinate processes already in train in Central America, in the ALBA countries, in the Caribbean and in South America generally.
The meeting was historic in that the Central American countries were meeting the ALBA countries and other associated countries like Ecuador and Caribbean nations specifically for the first time to work out common approaches to an issue of common concern. In a sane world this would nail once and for all the lie that Venezuela and Cuba are disruptive, destabilising influences in Latin America. As more than one summit participant noted, the only destabilising country in Latin America is Colombia, which has failed for decades to resolve its internal civil war.
The virtually complete absence of reporting of this
important meeting in mainstream corporate news media and the
skewed reporting it received in regional media
overwhelmingly controlled by the right wing confirm an
inescapable conclusion. It is inherently impossible for
Western Bloc corporate media to give a true and fair view of
Any fair reporting of the Managua summit and its proceedings would have to include the huge forbearance shown by all participants.
The spectacle of regional leaders making every effort to bury their differences in order to move forward regional inter-governmental processes is truly sobering. It shows up mainstream corporate reporting on Latin America as completely disingenuous and makes ni-chicha-ni-limonada liberal social-democrat commentary look fake and mealy mouthed. While Western Bloc corporate propaganda media unreported teh Managua summit turning it into non-news, they facilitate a redoubled deceitful campaign waged by the US and Colombia against Ecuador and Venezuela based on laptops of mysterious provenance allegedly recovered from the attack on Ecuadoran territory in March.
Reading the Nicaraguan government transcript of the Managua Food For Life Summit and the Summit's Final Declaration make that propaganda campaign look more far fetched and self-serving than ever. That is certainly why the summit was not reported in the mainstream corporate press. Any fair report would show up the corporate media's standard account of Latin America offered to Western Bloc media consumers as completely stupid and dishonest. It would also reveal that the rest of the world has had enough of corporate consumer capitalism's global goblin market.
Toni Solo writes for tortillaconsal