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History Table of Contents
1994 Summer Conference
 
Summer Conference 1994
Globalism and Tribalism: The New World Disorder?

Globalism: Threat or Opportunity?

Questions

Mr. Broadbent: I have a fear that the audience will be left with the mis-characterization of you as epitomising the old left. I was wondering if you could give us another go at the version of the world that you were attempting to create for us?

Broadbent: I never said a good thing about the Soviet Union in my life, either economically or politically. The people who did defend the Soviet Union and China were the Communist parties in the Western World and the communist parties there. The people who were, in fact, normally destroyed first by these people happen to be social democrats, which I have been all of my adult and political life. We are systematically opposed to them, and social democrats that I know are in favour of market economies. The serious debate is what kind of market economies, where do you intervene, when don't you. And Communists, or the old left, who defended China and the Soviet Union, were quite different from social democrats who were trying to make improvements within our system, building on our own liberal democratic heritage to create a social democratic foundation. We attacked the old left as systematically as anyone.

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My question is to professor Zingrone. Does this inability to recollect mean that we are doomed to be followed by generations who have forgotten their history? Is our culture going to disappear and are we about to move into a cultural dark ages again?

Zingrone: Yes, we already have. The fundamental effect of televising any event is that is trashes the past. Let me see if I can give you a graphic example. Let's say that you watched something completely edifying — the Picasso show on PBS. Now here you are watching a television screen in which a selection of Picasso's pictures are presented to you with an erudite explanation by an appropriately selected expert. And then what? You have seen that show; you may watch a repeat of that show, but the chances are is that is all you will ever experience of that man's work; what it means, the milieu that gave it birth. The total set of artistic connections that support the existence of that one artist and a matrix of other artists, all of that is lost. It becomes this specious little selected, easily trashable package that is hardly worth repeating more than once. The persistent treatment of the past under those conditions is bound to put a lot of pressure on those who want to have longer memories.

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Mr. Coxe, how we might look to bridge the gap between, don't let anyone in, unless they satisfy these criteria — which we have made up relatively recently — and we need to let anybody in under any conditions?

Coxe: .You are absolutely right that it is difficult to frame a set of trading rules if you have, lets say, slave labour on the one hand and free labour on the other. This did not currently get in our way when we were trading with Communist- bloc countries as they then were during the sixties and seventies and eighties. We now have a real dilemma on it. I think what you have to do, frankly, is that you have to make absolutely certain of the origin of goods. This is cases where governments can be involved. I mean I think there are reasonable trading rules that you do understand. You establish that they are made not by prisoners and that kind of thing. And that can be done. A country that will not let inspectors go out to see that, is a country that you can remove most favoured nation status from. I don't believe the whole world should be ruled by naked self interest. The point I was trying to make, and I am sorry if you thought it was unduly unbalanced, is that we are struggling to create a world where naked force and old ethnicities and tribalism will not be the rule of disorder of the next millennium. And in order to do that, I think it imposes on us — the rich man's club, as it was so defined — a special burden to assure these newly industrializing countries that we are not making up rules now to hold them back. That is the delicate challenge. When they see those same old cartels getting together to write the rules against them, they have every reason to believe that we don't take you seriously. When they see that things that they can sell, we will not let them sell, what are they to conclude. My fear is that in a world of proliferation of very advanced weaponry, if we send out the signal to these desperate countries that if they are successful in selling we will find new rules to prevent them, then I think we are looking at a new form of horrors for the next century.

Broadbent: I do believe it is possible and desirable to make the kind of linkage between a minimal set of rights and the right to participate in this new world trade organization. I had attached a limited set of rights, and I was careful about that; they parallel the rights that are particularly important to the corporate sector, property rights, intellectual property, that are part and parcel of our trade agreements. For us to say to the Chinese, to the Mexicans, well, we will not trade with you unless you have the same wages per hour as we have, would be totally unfair given their state of economic development. But, for us to say we will not trade if you don't meet a basic set of right for your citizens, I think that is fair, because Canadian workers shouldn't have one set of rights and Chinese workers another, and Chinese NGOs agree with that argument.

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Mr. Broadbent ,t a time of limited resources in Canadian foreign policy, has the time come to change our focus from those good old institutions, such as the ILO, which seem to reflect the world of 1919, into a new era of institutions that seem to at least have the promise of addressing modern challenges more effectively and where, quite frankly, Canada seems to have a little bit more influence than in those good old buildings over in Geneva?

Broadbent: I am by no means an expert on the ILO, Certainly during the whole period of the Cold War, as I understand it, that was the archetypical institution of the U.N. that the Cold War screwed up. It was fought out in the ILO. Michael Ignatieff talked about the whole bureaucratization of the UN and all of its agencies. What happens to any bureaucracy over a period of time, has effected the ILO. It didn't work during the Cold War years, for reasons that are all pretty evident: no one wanted it to work. I would want to have a second look at that. The new institutions, though, I think are important. We proposed an extension to go parallel with the NAFTA, to set up a trilateral human rights commission that would deal not with just political and civil rights, but economic social and cultural rights too, and the implications of the changing patterns of trade and having investigative authority, reporting authority — but not mandatory action. The reports would go to the legislatures for example of the three governments and then public debate.

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What are the chances that parliamentary democracy will work in parts of the world, where citizens are much less aware of their obligations than we are. Would be better to let them develop a system of government which fits better their needs and their psychology?

Broadbent: Many of those "developing countries" have a greater sense of responsibility for concerns about other people in their community, than we have. I don't say at all they should have the parliamentary system or the congressional system. When citizens in these countries are making demands on society for the rights that are enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the two principle covenants of political, civil, social, economic culture rights, we should be defending them.

Coxe: I don't know the answer, but I think that those people for whom economic progress is at the moment a number 1 priority, it may be that they have a somewhat different agenda. That doesn't mean that we tolerate abuses of human rights, but it may mean that we should be less concerned about some of the forms that they choose for governess and we should not be so concerned about "equality" as Mr. Broadbent is, because what we don't see now is that these countries are as concerned with that agenda item. I predict that they will be at some time in the future, but let them work it would rather than us tell them from our lofty academic perches that this is what they should think about first rather than economic process.

Broadbent: When you say we shouldn't tell them; that they may have a different agenda at this moment, what you are talking about is the elites who are in control of their society at this time say we have a different agenda. And by enlarge, I am very sceptical of elites where ever they are, because I am very sceptical of myself as a relatively well-paid Canadian. Anyone who has more power and income than others normally finds very convenient arguments to justify it. And it normally involves retaining what you have and keeping other people in their place. When it comes to rights we should be listening to people without power as opposed those with power.

Coxe: I trust that all people who believe this will refrain from purchasing any goods made in China, Malaysia and Thailand and exercise their own personal consumer sovereignty to enforce human rights. Consumers who are given the choice between buying merchandise made in various countries — and we must make sure the labelling is on — can, presumably if they have these idealistic views, influence by their refusal to purchase. I am a little sceptical that we have to, via our governments , impose these abstract standards. Standards I happen to agree with. But we are saying that the government must tell us all to do this. I am not sure I am happy with giving any government that kind of power.

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