Fiji’s archbishop called globalization “neo-colonialism” and a “new form of political domination” ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Pacific island nation’s independence from the United Kingdom.
“0n 10th October, Fiji celebrates her 50th Independence anniversary. Independence from British colonial rule and its particular form of power – labelled by many writers as ‘patron-client politics’; a form of power that has flowed into the independence era till today,” Archbishop Peter Loy Chong said on Oct. 4.
Chong said globalization has created a culture “based on the market.”
“It focuses on making profit at the expense of human beings and nature. It privileges the power of multinational corporations, which now have dominion over the world in terms of exploitation, production, markets, and political and economic policies. It is their power and influence that have caused the extensity, intensity, and velocity of so many things to increase as they are moved and used around the world,” he explained.
Claiming that multinational corporations truly rule the world today, Chong said “globalized culture serves the corporations rather than people.”
Fiji is an island nation of nearly 890.000 people located about 1,300 miles away from New Zealand. It became a British colony in 1874 and achieved independence in 1970. Most recently, Fiji has been a leader of efforts of small island nations to stop global warming, since rising sea levels threaten its very existence.
In his remarks, Chong said for any Fijian political party or government to bring about integral political and economic development, it must address the power of globalization.
“A characteristic of globalization in Fiji is the power of multinational corporations over the government. Corporations are powerful and do not recognize any border,” the archbishop claimed. He added developing countries like Fiji become easy victims of the domination of multinational corporations.
He accused financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank of forcing local governments to allow corporations to have a free hand in their countries and exploit their natural resources.
“This makes the local governments servants of the multinational corporations rather than the people that elected them. This is obvious in how the Fijian government is obliged to offer the hotel industry and garment factories incentives and tax concessions while it increases the value-added tax on people to pay off its loans. The government is seen to be helping the rich get richer and making the poor become poorer,” Chong said. “We have become independent but no democratic!”
The archbishop said the market is the “root metaphor” for the economic system promoted by the IMF and World Bank.
“The development paradigm for these institutions is – more profits equals economic development. To facilitate economic growth, their policies supported development of new economic systems that have full and free control over resources, production, and trade. Therefore, resources have to be freed up and freedoms in marketing and trade have to be guaranteed by nations,” he said.
Chong said this leads to eliminating laws that would in any way hinder the economic activities of corporations.
“Unfortunately, in many cases this means relaxing laws that protect human dignity, nature, the environment, and the community as a whole,” he said.
Since corporations “demand total freedom for their economic activities,” the archbishop said they displace the government in terms of decision-making and setting policies for development.
“They become the sovereign power and decision-maker,” Chong said.
The archbishop said globalization has taken away some oversight from nations and place economic actors in “a more depoliticized global space.”
“Regulation must be put into place to avoid the negative impacts of the free-market capitalism,” he said.
Follow Charles Collins on Twitter: @CharlesinRome