Globalisation, which profoundly affects the countries of the system’s periphery, is showing all its limitations, especially since the 2008 world crisis (which is still ongoing), and it is taking on very dramatic characteristics with the Covid-19 pandemic and the current conflict in Ukraine.
Presented as a panacea to promote poor countries’ development, the globalisation of the economy has only accentuated the contradictions of the system. These translate into the exaggerated concentration of wealth among the traditional dominant classes, greater social inequality, increased poverty and a degree of penury that was believed to have been overcome or at least reduced to an acceptable level.
The opening up of local markets, eliminating practically all forms of protection of national labour, has resulted in what is known as deindustrialisation. It involved driving programmes of domestic development (especially related to means of consumption previously imported from the metropolises) and the replacement of traditional agriculture, which supplied the internal market with foodstuffs and raw materials. In this way it replaced the peasant economy with agro-industry destined, basically, to provide the metropolitan areas with raw materials and a few goods of low added value.
The vast unemployment that this change brought with it explains to a large extent the enormous flows of internal migration from the countryside to the city, no less than the considerable emigration to metropolitan nations.
In these countries the bet on globalisation is called “extractivism”, to emphasise that from them is taken -or rather, plundered- local wealth that should be used to satisfy first and foremost the drive for domestic development and the needs of the local population.
This is what happens with oil, minerals, cereals, gas, wood and raw materials in general, in the same way that millions of immigrants, victims of local unemployment, find themselves obliged to emigrate to metropolitan markets as cheap labour, a resource trained by these countries but which benefits the metropolises.
This globalisation benefits the big business of the metropolitan countries and the creole dominant classes but it creates a framework of acute and growing poverty in the periphery, along with the discontent of large sections of the population which forces the creole oligarchies and their foreign allies into very severely repressive actions which only diminish further the already scant legitimacy of the social order. In response, the social and political forces of the left propose, in some cases, revolutionary formulae of some sort of socialism and, in other cases, simply reforms of the system (which, given the context, could well be considered radical in some circumstances).
They are all seeking, one way or another, to boost domestic industrialisation, the search for so-called food sovereignty, the bet on research and science and to ensure basic public services in education, health and pensions. In other words, a return to public ownership of everything the neoliberal model privatised, affecting head-on the social majorities’ interests.
However, to achieve these objectives it is necessary to overcome globalisation and promote forms of protectionism so that these periphery countries can undertake the process of overcoming the current structures in all respects.
Some countries are undoubtedly able to bring these goals forward with great autonomy because they possess large resources: population, territory, natural resources etc.
But in reality they all need to find forms of regional integration that give them sufficient margins on the word stage and allow them to make the exercising of national sovereignty a reality.
It has already been demonstrated that the neoliberal idea of “a world without nations” only seeks to benefit the metropolises.
The black propaganda that seeks to convince of the supposed evils of protectionism and the advantages of globalisation is no longer sustainable. There are several reasons, one of them, for example, is that the metropolitan countries are the first to impose the opening up of markets -the modern “free exchange”- on the periphery nations while they carry out all the protectionism they feel necessary to defend their economies.
Indeed, the United States and Western Europe, who for decades have preached globalisation as the best instrument for peaceful and mutually beneficial world development, are the ones who apply sometimes very drastic protectionist formulae.
Of course, they also apply these protectionist measures between themselves, in their fierce competition for control of the global market.
The barely hidden rivalry between the United States and Europe is well known, no less than the West’s strategy to suppress the ever more successful rise of the so-called “emerging powers” (China in particular).
Periphery countries’ access to the metropolitan markets is restricted in a thousand ways; the aim is that they are simply dispensable, secondary partners of the rich West and any protectionist formula that favours any sort of independent domestic development is obstructed.
The shady roles of entities such as the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO are very clear in this respect.
The forming of blocs of these nations to join their forces and overcome their weaknesses -the so-called process of regional integration- requires progressive forces to reach power (and not just government, important as that is).
To reach said power they must unseat the traditional dominant classes who currently benefit from the model of dependency so closely linked to globalisation.
Regional integration, which must and can be harmonised with protectionism, is without doubt the only thing that ensures an adequate place on the world stage.
The current conflict in Ukraine is due, undoubtedly, to the fierce global economic competition between powers and has nothing to do with the alleged “defence of democracy”, especially if it is used as justification by those responsible for crimes against humanity in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Palestine, Cuba, Venezuela, Yugoslavia and Western Sahara, all of them imperialist acts without United Nations authority, in other words, illegal wars as condemnable or more than Russia’s current war in Ukraine.
Far, very far from the justifications alleged by the West of “defending democracy and civilisation”, the real intention is none other than to try to corner the Russians and condemn them to being a nation of second order, assuring for the West the control of its natural resources and, at the same time, tightening the screw on China.
It is understandable then that there are so many governments in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia, as well as in Africa, that although not supporting the Russian aggression in Ukraine, are calling for a negotiated outcome as soon as possible. What is striking is precisely that so many governments from the planet’s periphery do not support the West’s military adventure. They put national interest before a globalisation that only benefits a few.
The countries that do not see it as their war are in the majority, and they are probably proceeding in the right way.