Rebellions are special social
events. They are special because once
they start they never end and because they provoke other events which
eventually change the world. The Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British
heralded the defeat of the British some 90 years and millions of Indian deaths
The power of a rebellion is that
it confronts the supporting images of power of its invincibility, of its
claimed logic of superiority and of its absolute control of subordination.
A tactical but failed rebellious challenge is
eventually a strategic victory.
In the global political economy
the rule from the boardrooms of large banks and corporations has been sustained
by powerful and seemingly unassailable ideologies such as free trade, growth
through competition, freedom though private enterprise and democracy through
For thirty years the bulk of
leaders and governments throughout the world have accepted the distorted logic of
the benefits of privatization, liberalization and foreign investment. Partly they did this because it served their
personal interests and partly from fear of economic and possible military
reprisals but above all they could not see anywhere in the world an alternative
model, could not see anywhere a leadership which was rebelling and founding a
new model with a degree of practical legitimacy.
Now such a model exists.
The rebellion started, not in the countries
host to street protests against international capitalism, not in demonstrations
against EU policies but in the distinctive national settings of several
countries of Latin America
and also Brazil
actions have been taken which confront and attack the dogma of neo-liberalism.
Governments of these countries have developed integrated post-neoliberal
policies. They have nationalized foreign corporations or incrementally
expropriated their power; they have intervened in all markets, favored local
industry over imports, and used state taxation for redistributive purposes.
Through bitter experience the
people and policy-makers in Latin America realized, what has yet to be
understood in Europe
, that regional and
international organs have been captured by finance and industry and twisted to apply
excessively business-friendly policies.
Governments of the region have had to directly deal with the IMF and
World Bank in a way which revealed how the agencies were organizing the
extraction from the national economies. The international agencies were shown
to be the problem not the solution but their basic objective, the installation
of foreign corporate investment, remained in place.
But again though many political battles,
such as that in Bolivia
over foreign control of water supplies, it became clear that foreign ownership
and foreign corporations are an expression of imperial relations. They are
imperial for two reasons. First, because they intervene in an economy at a
distance with no concern for the lives of people in the target country and
second because the products, processes and practices are designed by, and often
for, the country of the corporate headquarters and therefore do not always fit
(are dysfunctional to) the country in which they are
The Japanese have always realized
the imperial nature of foreign corporate investment which is why they call it
the “Black Ships” after the black-hulled ships of the American expedition
and the forced signing of a trade treaty in 1854. They continue to resist
foreign corporate investment.
the first President of independent Ghana
realized from his experience
and then explained it his 1965 book that there was a “neo-colonialism” of
foreign corporate rule.
In Latin America
a new generation has emerged who see, as Evo Morales President of Bolivia, the
need to “decolonize” the country by securing ownership of its natural
resources, or the late President Chavez of Venezuela
who talked of raising the
national flag over their oil fields. Likewise the current government of Argentina
seen that uncontrolled foreign investment impedes a reconstruction which
requires control of trade at the borders. Argentina
now have some of the highest rates of protection for local industry in the
Like all rebellions the best
evidence of the importance of its challenge is the response of its
Judging then by the response
of the European Union the rebellion in Latin America
is a major threat.
In 2012 Argentina
its oil corporation which had been a state-owned corporation for most of the 20th
In the early 1990s it was
privatized basically to a Spanish corporation.
After the nationalization
announcement on 16 April 2012, the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Energy and
Tourism claimed it was illegal and then declared “any act of hostility against
a Spanish company anywhere in the world will be interpreted by the Government
of Spain as an act of hostility against Spain and its Government.” This must be
one of the more frank statements of the current integration of corporation,
state and government in Europe
In support of Spain
and shortly thereafter Catherine Ashton the European Union’s High
Representative for Foreign Affairs, stated concerning Argentina’s announcement
of nationalisation of the oil corporation.
“This announcement is cause for grave concern.
YPF(the Spanish corporation) is an
important European Union investment in Argentina. A takeover sends a very
negative signal to international investors and it could seriously harm the
business environment in Argentina.”
This was followed with
considerable speed by the European Parliament which passed a resolution by 458
votes to 71 against and 16 abstentions condemning the action of Argentina
Reminding the world of the European Parliaments’
commitment to unrestrained private interests it noted that it “deplores the
decision taken by the Argentine Government ….maintains that this represents a
unilateral and arbitrary decision which entails an attack on the exercise of
free enterprise …”
Then in an ominous aside the
majority of the Parliament urged “the European Commission and the European
Council to explore and adopt any measures to safeguard European interests in
order to avoid such situations arising again.”
Finally, apparently believing that
they could speak for the “international community” the 458 voting members of the European
“about the negative effects
that such measures might have, such as international disinvestment and adverse
consequences for Argentina
in the international community”
In short the full force of
economic power and threat is to be unleashed on Argentina
. For the European Union
Commission and Parliament any rebellion involving an alternative model must be
Departure from the core orthodoxy
cannot be tolerated anywhere in the world.
The Latin American rebellion may falter.
The internal and external opposition may achieve temporary victories. It cannot
be certain that there will not be military coups or that left populism will not
decay into authoritarian rule favoring both the nations high incomes and
further extraction by foreign corporations. But even if this were the case the rebellion
exists today and the poorer and more just-minded people of the world can look forward
to an eventual global strategic victory.
Original references to sources can be supplied.