Another World Is Possible
The cash is out there. It can be found not only by taxing financial transactions but in tax havens where, as Bush himself has proven, it's possible to identify, target and close down accounts belonging to anyone the United States identifies as a terrorist--so why not the accounts of drug barons and traffickers in women, children, endangered species and armaments? Thanks to these same cozy locations in the Caribbean and other fiscal paradises, taxes on transnational corporations are undermined while taxes on labor and consumption contribute far more than their fair share.
"Free trade" as managed by the World Trade Organization and reinvigorated at the recent negotiations in Doha is largely the freedom of the fox in the henhouse. Despite the advance on generic drugs for pandemics like AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, the South's needs are shelved and the transnationals continue to run the show according to their own preferred rules.
None of the profound changes we call for will, however, happen spontaneously, and our present elites certainly don't want them. Clearly the shock of September was not great enough to force them to change their minds and their behavior.
So, American friends, where does all this leave us? First of all, please bring the United States back. We need you, the world needs you. Although people on every continent are joining in this struggle, there are no guarantees we can win. Without a strong US movement, in the bastion of corporate and financial-market-driven globalization, we are in fact likely to fail.
I hope not to be misunderstood in saying that September 11 must not lead to an unhealthy inwardness and self-preoccupation but to tough-minded analysis followed by outward-looking action. The adversary hasn't changed since September 11. That adversary is still "Davos" and everything Davos stands for, whether meeting in the mountains or on the banks of the Hudson. Homo davosiensis wants all the resources, all the wealth, all the power and all the freedom to extend his ascendancy across time and space. This means that we too must be world-spanners and history-inventors, right now. As we say in French, l'histoire ne repasse pas les plats--"History doesn't offer second helpings"--so we'd better deal with what's on our plate now, which is world poverty, inequality, exploitation and hopelessness. How?
The great Chinese general Sun Tzu said 2,400 years ago, "Do not do what you would most like to do. Do what your adversary would least like you to do." In Porto Alegre, people from all over the world will be trying to determine what the adversary least wants and how to deliver it. In New York, we hope you will be supremely inconveniencing the Davos mob, denying it whatever it may want just now and in future (one thing it does want is for violence to spoil the proceedings and attract exclusive media attention, so watch out for agents provocateurs).
Personally, I have not been so hopeful in decades. The mood is changing. People no longer believe that the unjust world order is inevitable. To Margaret Thatcher's TINA--"There is no alternative"--they are replying that there are thousands of them. Now it's up to us all, especially to Americans, to prove that, as we say in ATTAC, "Another world is possible." And urgent.