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1 9 90 2000 TRICKLE DOWECOIANIC3 A.14 D THE EROSION OF ME .A.VIRRICAN MIDDLE CLLAS5 –ww, 411 184.41t _ r.4 1, tk ..1qi”,7;;I:41 4-;,> rah! is , JIM HIGHTOWER The Class War Rages On How the New Economic Order Looks from Below We are writing the constitution of a single global economy. Renato Ruggiero, 1996 e? Who is we? A new constitution that’s big, right? Will we get to vote? Will there be yard signs? Who the hell is this guy, and is he serious? Serious as a snake bite. Ruggiero, an Italian trade bureaucrat, was hand-picked in 1995 to head an obscure and downright secretive international body called the World Trade Organization, based in Geneva. Technically, the W.T.O. is the creation of governments, including ours, but in fact it is the baby of the world’s corporate and financial giants such names as GM, Chase Manhattan, Nestle, Caterpillar, Credit Suisse, ADM, Kodak, Nippon, Goldman Sachs, GE, Boeing, Unilever, Exxon, Monsanto, British Petroleum, and, well, the full club of powerhouse corporations that now call themselves “transnational.” For the past few years, members of the club have been diligently separating themselves from allegiance to any national flag, polity, or people, purposefully erecting a legal fortress around themselves, their hoards of money, and their financial ambitions. This legal construct is the “constitution” Ruggerio referred to. It is not merely protection that they seek from their fortress, but a secure place from which to reign, for they are quietly setting themselves up as a rogue “government” one that is unelected, unaccountable, for-profit, supranational, and sovereign. The building blocks of their “constitutional” fortress are the W.T.O., G.A.T.T., I.M.F., A.P.E.C., 0.P.I.C., N.A.F.T.A., M.F.N., C.B.I., A.F.T.A., M.A.I., and other jumbles of letters that form the esoterica of global trade policy. What the British monarchy of old could not accomplish by force the subjugation of the American people today’s new oligarchy of corporations is achieving by stealth, without even a protest from our political leaders. To the contrary, both Bill Clinton’s Democrats and Newt Gingrich’s Republicans are blithely opening the doors for the transnationals, shouting: “Give me liberty … or give me a PAC contribution!” There is a dumbfounding silence from the whole political system about the unbridled power of top corporate and financial executives, who among their many other excesses are almost jubilantly knocking down the wages and middle-class aspirations of America’s workaday majority. They are abandoning families and whole communities here as they flee to exploit the impoverished in Third World nations. Far from serious political or journalistic frontal assault on the poor and the middle class, the corporate powers are being widely exalted, hailed as crusaders who are bringing a God-ordained, market-based order to the world’s people. They are marching onward under the golden banner of “Globalization,” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13 DECEMBER 25, 1998