Speech to 40,000 from the German ATTAC Movement, Köln, 14/09/02

Johan Galtung, Director TRANSCEND: A Peace and Development Network

The first priority for a decent economic market is to satisfy the basic needs of the most needy. Beyond the basics for the human body they include freedom and meaning with life beyond material consumption. And the most basic need of all: survival.

Instead hundred thousand die daily from hunger and easily curable diseases. With half of humanity living on less than $2 per day the choice of products is an illusion, let alone the basic choices of vocation, job, place to live, spouse. Materialist consumerism kills spirituality all over and turn humans into beasts. And the system that gives freedom to produce and consume only to the rich is preserved and expanded by massive killing.

The first priority for a decent globalization would be for people of all genders, generations, races, classes, nations and countries to work together for the basic needs for all. But we get a system dominated by middle-aged, white, middle and upper class males, often Christian and Anglo-Saxon, from the USA, UK and other rich countries enforcing their caricature of globalization. Their markets penetrate all borders. With monetization, privatization, and ever increasing labor productivity people die, and die, with no protection, exposed to market, army, navy and air forces.

Right now only the local communities, singly or combined in confederations can provide a habitat focused on basic needs. A very inspiring model is Ariyaratne's Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka, including about 11,000 of the country's 38,000 villages. And technologically Ashok Khosla's Development alternatives in India, and Mohammed Yunus' grameen credit system. A life in dignity for all is entirely possible, all over, if those "forces" step aside.

For such things to happen we need massive civil society movements like ATTAC, the World Social Forum from Porto Alegre, capable of standing up against what Le Monde Diplomatique called the Axis of Evil: the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization. And we need governments who do not make their soldiers available for ever more corporate profit.

We need people who become the masters and not the slaves of the market system. The United Nations has three major goals: - peace: resolving conflicts by peaceful means; - development: a life in dignity for all, with basic needs met; - sustainability: development not compromising future generations. Let us get a ranking of exactly where corporations of the world stand on these three so that we know which ones to boycott and which ones to support. Their average profit is about 6%, but even less boycott than that will have an impact. They have reduced the power of workers through automation. But customers, us, they need.

If economists cannot tell how to satisfy basic needs but only how to make economic growth-corporate book-keeping writ large-and cannot tell which corporations to support and which not, then provide for early retirement and train a new generation. Many neo-liberal economists today are murderers badly disguised anyhow.

If the media can only report economic growth or the lack thereof, and particularly for the finance economy with their love for the stock exchanges (that was how "globalization" as a word started), then let us train development journalists able to report from the bottom of this killing economy, of misery and avoidable death and of how people around the world mobilize for dignity.

And let us fight for a global governance run by an improved UN, with a People's Assembly--not run by corporate greed--focused on the right of every human being on earth to a life in dignity.


Put on the internet by M. Reichl 13.01.03