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Re: <eyebeam><blast> MAI '98

Brian Holmes wrote:

"First, the question of culture. The threat that a NAFTA-like convention
on "equality of investment rights," extended to the 29 OECD countries
and ultimately to the world, would destroy the various nationally based
laws that European countries have designed to protect and encourage
linguistic and stylistic originality in the audio-visual media, leaving
all mass-distributed culture open to the psychologically engineered
formulas of market-directed products. With the consequence, in the long
run, that the delicate and diverse achievements of human
consciousnessover the centuries may come, in the space of a few
generations, to mirror a statistically patterned and seamlessly unified
symbolic environment - an environment filled with a "diversity" of
commodities, but drained of all geographical and temporal difference,
reduced to the pure, amnesiac present of production-consumption."

That's the most eloquent and convincing statement of the argument that
I've seen.  But I strongly disagree.  It's nice for government to
encourage originality (linguistic or otherwise) but if other expression
must be stopped in order to accomplish that goal... that's censorship.

Economic globalization (by NAFTA and GATT type agreements) has several
profound benefits.  Under the pre-globalization regime, power and money
cross borders but small scale economic forces do not.  This gives
multinational corporations a devastating advantage over everyone else. 
Economic globalization is the only available route toward encircling the
multinationals.  So long as economies are closed, the multinationals can
go where unions and environmental law cannot reach and there is no
chance of controlling their false economies of exploitation and

Economic globalization also plays important roles in deterring war,
protection minority cultures within nations, protecting the poorest, and
protecting the environment of poor countries.  The opposition seems to
come from labor and environmental groups in rich countries who don't
want to be lumped together with labor and environment in the rest of the
world.  It is conceivable (though I don't think it's true) that NAFTA
has hurt US or Canadian environmental protection.  It clearly helps
Mexican environmental protection. Surely Chernobyl has shown why we all
need to be concerned with the weakest links in global environmental

For deterring war, encircling multinationals and protecting the global
environment, I think this sort of economic globalization is critical.
Protecting French culture is not a counter argument if you want to do it
by preventing undesirable expression.  Protecting French culture is a
noble and important goal, but it seems necessary to find a way to do it
without regulation designed to control expression.

- Stephen Linhart
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