On Globalization, Democracy, MAI and Alternatives: A Conversation with Maria Mies

By Wolfwood, Theresa | Canadian Dimension, January-February 1999 | Go to article overview

On Globalization, Democracy, MAI and Alternatives: A Conversation with Maria Mies


Wolfwood, Theresa, Canadian Dimension


TW: Much of the concern in Canada about the MAI and globalization is focused on issues around sovereignty and Canadian independence cultural and economic domination and the loss of our social programs. How does that differ from MAI issues in Germany?

MM: ... your activities are much broader. There is a public awareness in Canada about the MAI. You have been much more active than Germany. Your campaign has been more successful, you started earlier than us. Nevertheless, I think there are particular obstacles and differences in Germany. Your campaign has concentrated around national sovereignty, freedom from the USA.

TW:...dependence ...

MM:...domination and preserving social programs in Canada. In Germany we could not raise the issue of national sovereignty or even anti-Americanism in the same breath or style. Germany has its own history of national sovereignty. When we translated and distributed Tony Clarke's article, we had a reaction from left and feminist friends, "What do you mean by national sovereignty?"

Most left-wing people feel that the nation-state is not threatened, they believe it is an accomplice in this process...and when you raise the nation-state in Germany, you are put in a right-wing corner. At our congress in Bonn, on April 25, against the MAI, we were accused of paving the way for the right, which is using the MAI to promote its ideas.

TW: That is a difference - in Canada, all the right parties, including the Liberals who are in power, support the MAI...all accomplices of the corporate economy. So our opposition has come from the left, community groups and social movements. Canada has already had the experience of NAFTA with the decline in industry and rise in unemployment. We have also been concerned with the loss of democracy with NAFTA and MAI. You have the European Union; how does German experience of the EU compare with us in NAFTA?

MM: It does compare ... there was little discussion or awareness of EU when it was negotiated and signed. Now people begin to realize what the Amsterdam and Maastricht treaties mean. Nations have lost power - we have foreign policy in the hands of the European Commission, which is an unelected body - a loss of democratic rights. People begin to understand and become anxious, fearful and angry. The critique of the MAI is usually combined with a critique of the EU.

The critique of the right is one of opposing EU, MAI, multinationals and globalization. They want to have small-scale German firms.

From a German perspective, I would not call your main parties far right, conservative maybe. The German right is always against foreign workers and immigrants - that is the test to find out where people stand.

TW: We have that also ... most right-wingers here are opposed to non-European immigration. But the right here sees its benefits coming from the alliance of Canadian and USA corporate elites. Culturally, we are so dominated by the vulgar greed of the Hollywood mentality.

We do have a small social democratic party that opposes MAI and belatedly opposed the NAFTA. What about Social Democrats in Germany?

MM: No, that is not all our experience. The Social Democrats don't deviate from the general philosophy of neoliberalization. Gerhard Schroeder says, "We do not want to change anything. We only want to do everything better."

TW: Like Tony Blair's party, which supports MAI.

MM: Exactly

TW: We don't know what our NDP would do if it ever came close to national power. So where does the popular opposition to MAI in Germany come from?

MM: Not the Green Party, as we hoped. It shares power with the Social Democrats, so it says even less than them. Most opposition comes from individuals - and very few of us. As you know, we started a "Resistance Against the MAI" committee after you spoke to us in 1997. Some feminists and environmentalists ... …

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