Posted 5:36 p.m. Oct. 28
by Rati Bishnoi
U-WIRE (DC BUREAU)
(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON–If the anti-IMF/World Bank movement could have a personified nemesis, Michael Moore very well might be it.
Moore is one of the strongest advocates of the international trade movement and its bed fellow globalization, perhaps because for years he has spearheaded the institution at the center of the debate, the World Trade Organization (WTO) as its Deputy General.
It was this pro-globalization stance that Moore defended as he has many times to a packed auditorium at George Washington University as part of a roundtable discussion on trade and investment policy on Oct. 24.
Moore told the crowd that globalization was not a new concept. He likened trading routes such as the silk road that was used a link between Asia and Europe in the 16th century to be infantile forms of globalization.
“Globalization is not an abhoration,” said Moore. “An abhoration is how (world) trade was stopped by World War I.’
Throughout the speech, Moore tied anti-globalization efforts and anti-international trade efforts in the past to figures such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
Moore sited post-WWI ideological systems such as fascism and nationalism as protectionalistic, all of which advocated some degree of isolation from the international community as causes for the breakdown of trade in the earlier part of the century.
“More open trade, more progress,” said Moore before he reported statistics showing increases in literacy rates and life expectancy and decreases in infant mortality and hunger.
Moore defended globalization by stating that organizations such as the WTO helped create international law, universal values and “global dignity,” using as an example the political ideology that democracies don’t go to war with democracies.
Although Moore stated that overarching international institutions contributed to the creation of universal values, he continued to state that the WTO was only a binding organization on trade and not, “human, labor, union, animal rights.”
Moore argued one of the most hotly contested topics in the globalization debate by saying that forcing countries that joined the WTO to conform to specific standards of human, labor or other rights would make the WTO too powerful.
“The WTO is not a capitalist American plot,” said Moore, but followed later by saying, “Small countries will always be small countries, we just have to work harder and think more.”
Moore repeatedly used South Korea as a model of globalization’s success, yet he agreed with Simon Lacey, the Director of Studies for the World Trade Institute, when told that the type of trade package South Korea received was far different from the trade packages being offered to countries such as Kurdistan and Estonia now.
The trade package for South Korea was so different because fewer members and subsequently fewer conditions were required to for the nation to join. Now smaller countries that need to join the WTO to have access to significant economic markets must agree to the conditions of all of the 144 countries in the organization.
For smaller countries, the flooding of cheaper, imported goods into the economy threatens the countries own presumably smaller industries. One of the largest opposition arguments for globalization, the argument of cultural erosion, stems from the possibility of market flooding with outside goods Moore said.
In response to Lacey’s comment Moore said, “It’s not compulsory to join the WTO.”
Moore began his term in 1999, the volatile year when protesters succeeded in shutting down annual IMF/WTO meetings and the globalization debate was beamed into American households though images of protesters in black masks opposing policemen in riot gear. By the end of his term in August of this year, every economic summit held by the WTO has met with protest.
Despite the years and the protests, Moore still defends globalization and international trade in the way he did when he first became Deputy General and boasts of its progress.
“It was a rich, white persons club that has now changed.”