TCS Daily

Fortress Warsaw

By Tomasz Teluk - May 28, 2004 12:00 AM

The recent European Economic Summit in Warsaw was a meeting marked by paradoxes. The elite politicians and businessmen who attended remain convinced that the most effective way to regulate the economy is through central planning, protectionism and interventionism. The anti-globalists (they like to call themselves "alter-globalists" now, even though they provide no reasonable alternative to globalization, and the European media play along with them) who were also on hand say that the current world economic situation profits only governments and big multinational corporations. They declare themselves to be for more protectionism, more regulations and more taxes. But this would be a road to perdition.

The summit in Warsaw was planned as a meeting of governments representing 300 million people and business leaders. In fact the most important European countries ignored the invitation of Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski, except for the leaders of Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Albania and Moldova. "Old Europe" was represented only by Johannes Rau from Germany and Jorge Sampaio from Portugal. During the summit, no important decisions were reached. Presidents have no real power and influence in Europe or on the economy. But for businessmen the event offered another occasion to improve ties with politicians. This explains the presence of government-owned corporations such as Polish oil monopoly PKN Orlen and domestic securities company PZU. Also, other companies (media, pharmaceuticals and banks) were present, because their activity is regulated by government. That is why panelists were discussing preferences and tariffs for the biggest market players, not about just and free competition for all businesses.

The main danger to liberty is the activity of international bureaucracy towards creating a world government, but Warsaw was not the right place to talk about it. If the worst ideas of bureaucrats from the International Monetary Fund, United Nations, World Bank, World Trade Organization and G8 on creating a new and powerful international body to control international trade, regulate and redistribute capital flow come to pass, then we probably can talk about the end of history or the end of individual sovereignty under a global government.

At the same time anti-globalists organized an inevitable Anti-Summit, complete with protests and special conferences. They created a Coalition of Liberty Groups to bring young people, Trotskyists, Maoists, miners, the unemployed, workers unions and eco-terrorists. But they should not use the word "liberty" because in fact they are the biggest enemies of individual freedom. Anti-globalism is based on the collectivist dogma of Karl Marx. They blame all international corporations for worker exploitation, while companies give people jobs. They used to call themselves "anarchists" but in fact they are the biggest allies of the state.

What do these leftists want? They promote a bigger role for international organizations in controlling capital flows. They want higher taxes on the rich. They want to make the world more protectionist. They do not understand that the tragedy of poverty in Africa is caused by protectionism and international interventionism. They do not want to remember that this is an effect of social-democratic policies of such leaders as Bill Clinton and Joschka Fisher. These politicians organized similar riots and protests in 1960s. They also chanted slogans way back when but their solutions brought the world humanitarian tragedy in the poorest countries. Globalization's opponents refuse traditional values and call for a return to tribal primitivism, sinking their victims in mass slavery and poverty.

Actually, the elites and protesters agree: they want to keep control over regulations. But both are wrong. Because of protectionism and regulations in international trade, along with the development aid programs and national protectionism of the richest countries, they bequeath the world a combination of regional enclaves of prosperity and deserts of misery. I call it regionalization. According to UNDP data the humanitarian tragedy of hunger is not because of a food shortage. Modern agriculture could easily provide food for more than 12 billion people. Regionalization, not globalization, provokes such drastic differences in global prosperity.

The developing world demands more globalization. It wants international markets to be open for its good, cheap and ecological products. Creating artificial barriers for globalization provides no opportunities for fair competition and causes mass starvation and the death of millions of innocent victims. Interventionists always talk about equality and justice for other people but at the same time they introduce regulations to protect the interests of governments and businesses connected to them.

During the summit, Warsaw seemed like a fortress. Every shop was protected with boards and planks, because owners predicted that the government would not be able to defend their property. Most businesses were closed and small companies noted losses. One of the bookstore owners from the city center said that he would lose more than $25,000 during these dead days. Naturally, there is no chance for any compensation. The only good message from Warsaw is that "alterglobalists" have at least abstained from violence against citizens and property. They concentrated on what they do best: playing tom-tams and smoking marijuana.


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