Twenty years ago the anti-globalisation movement blasted onto the world stage with all the right motives and a whole new generation of young idealists, conservationists and trade unionists at the helm. Credit to them. Then along came 9/11 and the embryonic movement lost its bearings. Who was the main enemy now, rapacious global corporations or the feudal, obscurantist backlash? History rarely moves in a straight line.

 

Slowly but surely the anti globalisation movement is re-emerging, a little less confident but perhaps a little wiser and a little more resilient. But a central problem remains; is it globalisation that is the enemy of human progress or a particular, historically specific variant of it, i.e., corporate, capitalist and avaricious in the extreme. Following the defining inner logic of capitalism itself – capital always moves to the highest point of return – globalism is ravishing the planet in search of ever greater profit. It cannot help itself, it is in the DNA of the beast. Either grow at the expense of the opposition or be swallowed up by that opposition. Only the largest of global corporations are immune from that dog-eat-dog world, and then only as a temporary reprieve.

The recent corporate and banking failures in the USA and Britain show that even the mighty are not, in fact, immune. Capitalism is no protector of famous corporate names, be they General Motors, Chryslers, Enron, Lehman Brothers, Royal Bank of Scotland, Northern Rock or Lloyds Bank. Now entire countries are facing bankruptcy in the face of a devouring capitalist juggernaut. The entire Euro Zone is at risk. This is not hyperbole, this is the assessment of the German Central Bank. So soon, the entire planet will be run by a few hundred giant corporations, governing all aspects of life; industrial, financial, and cultural. A bland, lifeless McCulture will descend over the planet, delivered to your flat screen, your ipad and your mobile, courtesy of a handful of media tycoons. With such a bleak Orwellian vision already manifesting itself, little wonder that the young and idealistic are driven to protest.

But to be rational and successful, the anti-globalism movement must more carefully define itself. Globalism is a two edged phenomena. Yes, unchallenged it is rapacious, destructive and divisive. To paraphrase a well worn cliché, the rich will get richer and the disenfranchised will get poorer and more marginalised. Is there any sight more dispiriting than seeing street children around the globe proudly sporting their favourite football shirt as they pick amongst the rubbish tips in a desperate attempt for daily survival?

But corporate globalisation affords new opportunities. In its pursuit of new markets and increased profit, globalisation is inadvertently posing the material possibility of a more rational world, one that transcends national and religious boundaries. Capitalism still has a revolutionary component in that it is the perfect battering ram against local backwardness and petty provincialism.

Using the power of the new communication networks, a vision of a global community can be renewed and enhanced. The concept of universal human rights, transcending local, tribal, national, religious and regional prejudice can be juxtaposed to the existing status quo - stultifyingly backward as it is. A sane environmentalism can be counter-posed to the current policies of suicidal environmental catastrophe. A localised, accountable and responsive democracy can be counter-posed to the undemocratic, autocratic corporate rule that is the current norm. The very corporations that currently bestride the planet can be challenged firstly on transparency, secondly on accountability and ultimately on questions of social ownership and control.

Given the perilous state that these corporations are taking the planet, this is not some idealistic agenda for the distant future – this is the concrete agenda for today.

This leads us fairly and squarely to the doors of FIFA. We know that the organisation is mired in corruption. We know that FIFA is accountable only to their protected, inner fiefdom. We know that billions of dollars are at stake. And we know that whistle blowers are harshly treated. Panorama’s forthcoming expose, the British media’s latest attempt to shine the spotlight on FIFA foul play, has been branded traitorous to the British interests. But how can the exposure of lies and corruption ever be deemed traitorous? Is hosting four weeks of international football more important than exposing the rottenness at the core of the world governing body of football? If so, the World Cup will be forever tainted, if indeed it is not already tarnished beyond repair.

In the last broadside against FIFA, Andrew Anthony, writing in The Sunday Observer 28/11/10 had this to say;

‘The way FIFA is set up is rather like a medieval system of fiefdoms under the rule of an elected president, whose authority is dependent on the support of his executive barons from the six continental confederations. It is therefore in the president’s interest not to challenge the power of the bases that put him in charge.’

Expanding on the theme of corruption, Anthony adds,

‘What makes such inducements that much more attractive is FIFA’s inward looking outlook, the atmosphere of princely untouchability that surrounds the organisation, and its unwillingness to root out systemic corruption wherever it is found, at the top or the bottom. It’s an attitude that is neatly summed up in the words of the suspended Fusimalohi, "Although it’s corrupt," he told undercover reporters, explaining the openness of some FIFA officials to bribes, "it’s only corrupt if you get caught."

Sport still has the power to act as a global cement but if the cement is rotten the whole sporting edifice will soon come crumbling down. If it can happen to the once mighty General Motors it can happen to FIFA!

End JPK 28/11/10 Copyright

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