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Corporate "Trade" Rules and the End of Sovereignty


Corporate "Trade" Rules and the End of Sovereignty

David Morris

On May 8th at Nike’s headquarters, President Obama denounced opponents of the hotly contested Trans-Pacific Partnership as ill informed. “(C)ritics warn that parts of this deal would undermine American regulation….They’re making this stuff up. This is just not true. No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws.”


"But to call it a trade agreement is both accurate and misleading for it conjures up images of agreements that largely target tariffs. That is no longer the case. Of TPP’s 29 draft chapters, only five deal with traditional trade issues.

“Modern trade agreements have less to do with trade than with sovereignty. The primary focus of modern trade agreements is the elimination of existing national and subnational laws that regulate commerce.”

Beyond commerce, these corporate trade pacts also have–at their core–the legal arguments against dissent altogether. It’s not by accident that Hollywood began referring to principled environmentalists as eco-terrorists. Once the T word is invoked, anything can be authorized. And to the extent that corporations are increasingly owning govt. officials and defining national and international policies, any threat to their pollution, ecocide, and hegemonic control (via unchecked profits) can be framed as a “terrorist” threat.

THAT is the subtext of all these controls that leave out courts of law that answer to The People rather than the oligarchic 1%–the corporations.

This is the real right to life battle!


Speaking of “schizophrenic,” these 2 frames contradict one another. I see so many writers struggling with this. They are so firmly planted in the cozy-sounding frame of WE that when items are engendered (or engineered) by a small set of special interests, it presents ideological as well as grammatical syntax problems to THAT frame.

Note the contradiction inherent to conflating these two messages:

  1. “But by that time we had given birth to a new planetary organization, the WTO and new trade rules that for the first time allowed corporations to sue countries directly for damages caused by regulations.”

  2. “In this new judicial system largely designed by corporations there is no conflict of interest.”

Statement 1 suggests that WE (i.e. the citizenry, as opposed to Clinton beginning the process by which deregulation would hand the resources of government AND the commons to corporate figures) decided upon the WTO… but then in statement 2, Mr. Morris more properly defines who set up today’s trade pacts… as if these entities working behind the scenes for global hegemonic control are not one in the same.


From the article:

"What if a trade agreement were designed to protect and nurture labor rather than capital? Several U.S. trade agreements have included “side agreements” on labor but these lack the enforcement mechanisms accorded to capital. There is no extraterritorial judicial system to hear suits by workers or unions. Instead these agreements establish a multi-national forum where nations can be held responsible for not enforcing labor laws they have on the books. As the Heritage Foundation concludes, “they are largely meaningless.”

Ah, to consider labor! What a novel idea! Right up there with considering how corporate actions (as well as those of consumers) will impact the next SEVEN generations.

Mr. Morris spends a lot of time using Big Tobacco for the purposes of example in demonstrating how something known to do egregious harm will be pawned off as just another industry seeking profit, its “rightful” calling.

Whatever happened to the quaint notion: Harm none? or “First do no harm.”

I’d like to see analogies made to big polluters and to Monsanto. As a matter of fact, the same attorneys that learned how to lie through poker faces about the known health dangers wrought by tobacco are now defending the “right” of Monsanto to similarly taint/poison/adulterate/f–k with our food!

From the article’s conclusion:

“Rather than being forced to have an up or down vote on a bill consisting of thousands of pages of fine print after only a very limited debate and with no amendments, we should engage in a spirited national conversation about the values that should guide international trade agreements and what type of enforcement mechanisms would best serve the public interest.”

To get that open conversation happening, two things would be required:

First: Return of the public’s airwaves TO the public

Second: That those with power actually serve the so-called “public interest” rather than their corporate donors…

But that would require a third factor: publicly funded elections or at minimum, the rescinding of the odious “Citizens United,” and proportional run-off voting systems rather than winner take all/electoral college dictates


Here is the analogy. It begins with this: " Once the T word is invoked, anything can be authorized." The T word has become obvious and invoked: Trade has become Terrorism, plain and simple and legal. The US is now officially leading the war against nature, and against all living things. With broad bipartisan consent.


On Fascism:
"A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion. [Robert O. Paxton, “The Anatomy of Fascism,” 2004]

I would add that these characterize concurrent modalities of colonization that are and always have been kept out of the mass propaganda machinery.

Convention 169 of the ILO calls for free, prior informed consultation and consent of indigenous peoples. Indigenous Peoples are and have been under assault from transnational corporations and their minions to usurp natural resources in and under their traditional territories.

The ‘consumer’ is an identity construct developed and intended to internalize dehumanization and blindside natural human compassion for and solidarity with the peoples who are on the front lines of the assault by the extractive juggernauts.

CONSUMER - early 15c., “one who squanders or wastes,” agent noun from consume. In economic sense, “one who uses up goods or articles” (opposite of producer) from 1745. Consumer goods is attested from 1890. In U.S., consumer price index calculated since 1919, tracking “changes in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative basket of goods and services” [Bureau of Labor Statistics]; abbreviation CPI is attested by 1971.


As corporations and government refine BLAME THE VICTIM strategy they label anybody who doesn’t support their “trade deals” as anti-trade. Anybody who is anti-trade must also want the terrorists to win, right ?