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SUMMIT SAYS
Charles Secrett
Shahida Jamil
Jane Goodall
Naomi Klein

Michael Dorsey
Matt Thomas
Tladi John Ndlovu
Lloyd Anderson

 

 

[summit says: instant interviews]

 

Subject: Naomi Klein, author of No Logo and anti-globalisation activist.

Do you think the summit can succeed?

In the run-up to Rio, the press were saying: can Rio save the world? Now the issue is: can the summit save itself?

Real success is not on the cards Ė everyone knows that. The US government has made that clear. The issue is: do we let them cover up their failure?

So do you want the summit to fail?

At Rio, a deal with the devil was made. 

In many ways corporations funded the summit, but they funded with strings attached. And the strings were, you canít regulate us, weíre going to have this voluntary partnership model.

Now, corporate involvement in the summit has vastly escalated. So success for this summit is failure. When you have a failed model, its failure is a success.

Is the United Nations compromised?

Itís a tragic situation Ė the UN is now acting like the World Trade Organisation.

They should see what a bad sign it is to need this level of security at a summit. It wasn't always the case, but is a result of the merger between the goals of the United Nations and the goals of the private sector.

Kofi Annan has convinced himself of the value of partnership. He pioneered the Global Compact. I canít believed he isnít feeling betrayed by the companies who posed with him for photo opportunities and have failed to deliver.

Theyíve used him and theyíve used the UN.

What do you think about South Africaís handling of the summit?

Thereís a huge amount of struggle going on in this country. There are movements exploding. They are resisting privatisation of water and electricity, resisting eviction, and demanding land reform. They are reacting against all the broken promises of the ANC.

This is a security state. It spends three times as much on private security as it does on affordable housing Ė just to keep the rich from the poor. This level of inequality is dangerous.

What weíre seeing around the summit is an intense version of what is going on everywhere. Itís taking more and more barriers to keep the haves from the have-nots.

Why does the anti-globalisation movement spend more time talking about corporations than it does governments?

People are talking about corporations rather than politicians, because their politicians have been bought.

Thereís no better example than the United States. Its government represents an absolute and complete merger between the corporate sector and the people running the country.

There are a dozen CEOs who are in the Bush administration. Theyíre shuttling back and forth between those two worlds Ė and theyíre writing policy for each other. The idea of a public/private partnership is Dick Cheney meeting with his old friend Ken Lay, and writing an energy policy. 

I object to the idea that the nation state is going to stand up to corporations. Nation states made the deal with business in the first place. Nothing is going to change until there are radical democratic reforms in our countries, along with a much deeper understanding of what democracy is.

So what does this new democratic model look like?

Across Latin America, thereís a revolution going on against privatisation. In the US, itís being covered as a rise in anti-Americanism, but this is a very shallow appreciation of whatís going.

Now some people think this stuff is just cute and donít think it offers real solutions. But I believe these peopleís movements will form the building blocks of a different kind of globalisation. 

People have always wanted to believe in saviours  - a fiery charismatic leader or another one-size-fits-all system that will really work this time. But now people do not trust anyone but themselves Ė especially young people who are so suspicious of their leaders.

People donít want to make the same mistake they made in South Africa, where you get freedom of the ballot box, but you donít get economic freedom.

What are your plans for the future?

I am very interested in what is going on in Argentina. Itís in a total collapse and that has created a power vacuum and an opportunity to try out new ideas.

In the run-up to the March elections, the social movements, which bought down five governments in two weeks, are trying to come up with a platform for what participatory democracy and genuine accountability would look like on a national scale.

Their politicians are crooks. The IMF canít help them. And they donít want to vote for a new saviour. They want to find ways to deeply change the system. And this means questioning the very idea of representative democracy.

It a laboratory for democracy.

Iím going to move there for 6 months Ė because I believe so strongly this is where the next template will be developed.

25 August 2002

 

 

 

[sidelights]

Profile
Who?Naomi Klein
What?Author
Where?No Logo
 

ďAt Rio, a deal with the devil was made. 

And corporate involvement in this summit has vastly escalated.

So success for this summit is its failure."

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