We’re screening the film This changes everything by Naomi Klein. The photograph shows activists on the climate march in London, 29 November 2015. The film shows why climate protests are needed, and some reasons for hope about what the protests can achieve.
- Monday, 25 April 2016 from 19:45 to 22:00 (BST)
- The Lounge, St Philip’s Church Centre – 185 Mill Road, CAMBRIDGE, CB1 3AN
Book a ticket at http://bit.ly/1RRXlTz
This is a fuller account of the presentations that Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden and law lecturer Dr Eva Nanopoulos gave in Jesus Lane Friends’ Meeting House, Cambridge, on 16 March 2016, on links between the Greek financial crisis and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.Nick Dearden: TTIP’s like the enclosure of the commons
Nick Dearden said both TTIP and the Greek financial crisis of 2015 were symptoms of an unbalanced world economy, geared to serving the interests of the richest rather than of all. He had first studied Greece in his time with the Jubilee Debt Campaign , and said French and other loans to Greece for military purchases had given the country a debt comparable to the one that had pushed so many southern-hemisphere nations backwards during the 1980s. The European Union’s 2015 response to Greece’s debt involved no form of debt relief, but a humiliating requirement for the Syriza government to adopt policies such as privatisation — in which the first assets to be sold off were the profitable ones such as the national lottery. Taking issue with Nobel Economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz, Nick said that this arrangement was not unhinged. It made perfect sense in as much it created a kind of paradise for international capital.
Trade agreements like TTIP — and others pending, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the pending Canadian/EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, and the proposed Trade in Services Agreement — were similarly about re-writing economic rules in the interests of capital. These ‘next-generation’ trade deals went beyond the traditional concern with tariffs to focus on removing ‘non-tariff barriers’ to trade, many of which were regulations long fought for and much valued, for example in animal welfare. And, Nick added, this wasn’t a case of virtuous Europe and wicked America. The United States had banking regulations better than Europe’s — but negotiating TTIP would give American banks the chance to press for those rules to be swept away. TTIP might enable many corporate successes in removing rules that interfered with the right to profit, and it was likely that those successes would be locked in.
Nick likened TTIP to the enclosure of the commons in Tudor times. He said the financial arrangements set up in the capitalist world in the mid-1940s had been based on a recognition that some things were best not left to the market. The spread of privatisation since the 1970s had been a reversal of that, with TTIP the next stage in the process. But one thing afforded an optimistic view. In 2014 hardly anyone had heard of TTIP. By 2016, TTIP had become the most toxic issue around the EU. All US Presidential candidates had be careful to distance themselves from TTIP. In the UK, opposition to TTIP joined up concern about the NHS, the environment, animal welfare — all the issues people most cared about. Nick was optimistic that TTIP would be defeated, and that the networks forged in the struggle would afterwards be flourishing social movements like those now changing Latin America.
Eva Nanopoulos drew a number of comparisons between TTIP and the measures taken in response to the Greek debt: their narratives, their origins, their methods, and their consequences.Eva Nanopoulos: TTIP and the EU’s Greek measures share origins, methods and consequences
TTIP and the EU’s Greek measures shared a common narrative, concealing their ideological bedrock. They were presented as saviours, but the evidence pointed the other way. The North American Free Trade Agreement, a precursor to TTIP, had led to the loss of 400,000 industrial jobs. The beneficiaries were the richest people in the developed countries.
TTIP and the EU’s Greek measures shared an origin in colonial practice, specifically, Eva said, United States practice in nineteenth-century Latin America. A difference was that the techniques were no longer being imposed only on poor countries but on the poorest people in richer countries.
TTIP and the EU’s Greek measures shared undemocratic methods. The European and national parliaments had no power to influence TTIP, only to vote on whether the secretly-negotiated treaty should be accepted en bloc. Likewise, the Greek parliament had been given hours to reach a decision on enormous memoranda of understanding drafted by the International Monetary Fund.
TTIP and the EU’s Greek measures shared the consequence that both stirred up a high level of resistance. Events like the Egyptian revolution and the anti-World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999 were highly visible expressions of this movement, but they drew on a struggle sustained and built over generations.
These questions and answers are written up from notes and should not be taken as a verbatim transcription.
Question: How far advanced are the TTIP negotiations?
Nick: They’re at the 13th round. They’re closed, so we don’t know much. But they’re unlikely to be completed this year, precisely because of the protests. The controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) has been replaced by the Investment Court System (ICS) — a more transparent set-up, with arbitration by judges rather than corporate lawyers, and an appeals procedure, but the core problem of power imbalance remains. The ICS has made further trouble for the negotiators, because it’s being opposed from both sides. The Canadian/EU is further on, and we need to watch it all the more cautiously because too many people assume that the Canadian and EU ownership somehow makes it benign. Global Justice Now’s campaign to email MEPs and ask them their voting intentions is about to roll.
Question: TTIP is a monster. We need to hit it where it’s most vulnerable.
Nick: Global Justice Now is forming anti-TTIP alliances where it can. A new campaign pack, specifically designed for Christians, has received a lot of support. We’re in discussion with anti-TTIP Tories.
Question: A vulnerable point is the EU referendum.
Eva: Since the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, the power of national governments has been very much reduced. I regret the asphyxiation of debate about the EU in Britain — it’s a shame that we’re presented with a dichotomy of EU membership versus right-wing racism.
Nick: Yes, the two main Brexit worries are that leaving the EU would seem like a right-wing racist victory and that immigration problems are already causing a disintegration of the EU. As a progressive European, I took great pride in the fading of borders.
Question: Isn’t it more important to oppose TTIP than to focus on whether we should stay in the EU?
Eva: Something like this is happening already. It’s good that Greece had anti-TTIP demonstrations.
Nick: The German Social Democrats were essential to the campaign, and too many of them are wavering in their opposition now that the ISDS has been replaced with the ICS. We need to build alliances with universities, colleges, councils, and small businesses. We need to get shop-owners putting TTIP FREE ZONE posters in their windows.
Comment: The Cambridge City Council anti-TTIP resolution needs to be much sharpened.
Question: Could small businesses ever use TTIP and its courts to their advantage?
Nick: No. Also, the principle of the thing — a system inherently biased in favour of business against elected governments — is wrong.
Question: TTIP and its predecessors have sprung up, two to a generation. Is this a hydra, sprouting head after head for ever?
Eva: I’m more cautious about what might replace TTIP. We need to see relations between nations brought under control as well.
Law lecturer Eva Nanopoulos and Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden gave a pair of inspiring talks in Friends’ Meeting House on 16 March.
Nick Dearden likened TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership now being negotiated between the European Union and the United States, to the historic enclosure of common land in England and Wales, adding that opposition to TTIP joined up many of the issues people cared about — the NHS, the environment, animal welfare. Eva Nanopoulos urged campaigners to work hard for the destruction of TTIP, as TTIP if adopted would be in so many ways like the past year’s humiliation of her home country, Greece.
But Nick and Eva were glad of this one thing: that opposition to TTIP drew on struggles that had continued over generations. That’s where we of Global Justice Now come in. Nick’s talk began with a sentence or two about the fear he had seen in the eyes of politicians having to defend their policies to groups of Global Justice activists. TTIP is another fight we can win.
A more detailed account of the talks will follow in the next few days.
Global Justice Now Director Nick Dearden and Cambridge law lecturer Eva Nanopoulos will address a public meeting about the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) at 19:30 on Wednesday 16 March, in Friends’ Meeting House, 12 Jesus Lane, Cambridge CB5 8BA.
Nick will say:
“Greece is on the front line of the struggle for democracy. It’s a story we’ve seen before where an unjust debt is used to justify to wholesale sell off a society. Privatisations aren’t to do with helping Greece. The beneficiaries are corporations from around the world. The self-interest of European governments in forcing these policies on Greece leaves a particularly unpleasant flavour. We need to support Greece if we want to avoid the sort of devastation we saw across Africa in the 1990s, where millions of people suffered and even died through these sort of anti-social policies. If we want to put people first, stand with Greece.”
Eva will say:
“TTIP and the structural adjustments programmes imposed on Greece can be seen as two sides of the same coin. They share common origins, a common logic and ultimately a common ideological purpose: the dismantling of democracy and the crystallisation, through law, of neo-liberal hegemony.”
The pictures are from the meeting in Wesley Church on 7 October. War on Want Director John Hilary and Cambridge law lecturer Eva Nanopoulos updated us on the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. John told us of encouraging things: the 3.25m-signature-strong European Citizens’ Initiative against TTIP, the anti-austerity protests at the Tory Party conference in Manchester earlier in the week. But he warned that TTIP, too, had the wind in its sails, with the European Parliament’s July vote showing strong support for the deal, and with the parallel Trans-Pacific Partnership through to agreement. Eva warned that the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanisms, a focus of the TTIP negotiations, would have the effect of destroying any sense of equality before the law.
So some of us took to the street again three days later. 10 October was a day of action against TTIP. We went to the Market Square and Petty Cury and the bus stops, and pumped out leaflets, and gathered signatures. It was gratifying, rather than humiliating, to start working the bus stop for signatures and find that people were on our side and had signed already.
The 7 October meeting was organised jointly with Cambridge People’s Assembly against Austerity, Cambridge Keep Our NHS Public, and UNISON. Between John and Eva in the pictures is CPAA’s Olivier Tonneau, who chaired the meeting.
Come and hear John Hilary (Executive Director, War on Want) and Eva Nanopoulos (Lecturer in Law, University of Cambridge) on the dangers of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) now being negotiated between the EU and the United States.
19:30 Wednesday 7 October, Wesley Church, Christ’s Pieces CB1 1LG.
This meeting’s sponsored by Cambridge People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Cambridge Keep Our NHS Public, Cambridge branches of Unison, and of course us of Global Justice Cambridge. Hope to see you there!
Members of 38 Degrees, Global Justice Cambridge, Cambridge People’s Assembly Against Austerity and other groups, Cambridge Guildhall, anti-TTIP action, 22 August 2015. Photo by Sanja McMaster Hirose
Eve Steadman (38 Degrees) with poster and Aidan Baker (Global Justice Cambridge) with petition, Cambridge Guildhall, anti-TTIP action, 22 August 2015. Photo by Clare Baker
Clare Baker at the anti-TTIP demo. Photo by Sue Woodsford
Photos here of the 38 Degrees action against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership on Saturday 22 August, in which people from Global Justice Cambridge joined others from 38 Degrees, Cambridge People’s Assembly against Austerity, and more.
This was not a Global Justice / Green Party co-production. Our Green hosts had their material and we had ours — starting with the vast Corporate Monopoly board you see above. The Monopoly board was probably the better deal. As a talking point it was up there with the water-tap costume some of us wore to in the Market Place, 12-13 years ago. People didn’t need to have it drawn to their attention. They came and looked of their own accord. Some of themStrawberry 2015 Monopoly in progress. Picture by Clare Baker Strawberry 2015 last Monopoly game. Picture by Clare Baker
played on it, once we’d reassured them that the game would last for no more than 3 turns per player. A good few photographed it, which will have taken the message still further.
Global Justice Corporate Monopoly is in the spirit of Monopoly precursors such as The landlord’s game. It pits civil society (boot token) against big business (hat token). The hat has first throw, and the consequences of landing on most squares on the board favour the hat over the boot. 50% of the Chance cards favour hat over boot likewise, and the Community Fightback squares on the board are very few and far between.
From the conversations we had with punters, it became obvious that many, even of those who didn’t play, got the message. A remarkable number of them wanted to know if the board was for sale. To them we gave energy action cards, in hopes their addresses will reach Global Justice that way.
Strawberry 2015 Bernard, Aidan, Clare. Picture by Sue Woodsford
Yes, the hustings season for the 2015 General Election is well and truly on us now. The election is going to be a hugely important one. Let’s seize the opportunities the hustings give for putting the Global Justice agenda clearly before the candidates.
So mark the date: Tues 14 April, 19:20, Emmanuel United Reformed Church, Trumpington Street CB2 1RR.