Final Comments: Understanding The Cultural Response
This short final chapter contextualizes MCS within industrial capitalism and discusses globalization and environmental pollution as overarching destructive forces affecting most of the world’s peoples.
Excerpt from p. 287:
As the U.S. and other industrialized countries seek to remake less technological societies into new markets for their products and sources of cheap labor, the governments of these countries are pressured through the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to make “structural adjustments” to the way they allocate their moneys when they accept loans from the above mentioned bodies. Senegal, as a result of IMF structural adjustments has lost farms, increased its number of hungry people, increased unemployment from 25 to 44 percent (from l991 to l996), and cut its healthcare with resulting increase of 60 percent in maternal mortality (from l988-1993) (“Running on empty” 2002).
Under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) any national, regional, or local legislation that can be seen as interfering with trade can be challenged. For example, the U.S. Clean Air Act has already been weakened as a result of challenges from the Venezuelan and Brazilian governments regarding regulations on gasoline. We now sell dirtier fuel than before the challenges as a result of the WTO and their Appellate Body ruling that the U.S. did not prove that it used the “least trade restrictive” measures to enforce fuel standards (Retallack 2002). The effort to expand GATT to develop GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) is part of the agenda of “progressively raising the level of [trade] liberalization.” The impact of this on people is that the 137 member nations of the WTO would open up to free trade laws their health care, education, libraries, law, social programs, water, environmental protection, broadcasting, transportation, postal services and others. Free trade laws can override environmental and safety regulations if these regulations are seen as interfering with “free trade.” This means that a state or locale would not be able to enforce safety or environmental stipulations if pressured by a corporation that construed those stipulations as obstacles to its conducting of business. “Third world” countries are being pressured to open up services like control of their water to industrial corporations (“The last frontier” 2001).