A Kinder and Gentler Tyranny: Illusions of a New World Order

A Kinder and Gentler Tyranny: Illusions of a New World Order

A Kinder and Gentler Tyranny: Illusions of a New World Order

A Kinder and Gentler Tyranny: Illusions of a New World Order


This study provides a much needed Third World perspective on the "New World Order" (NWO). Calling on the work of critical scholars from the underdeveloped world, Mike and Peggy Rivage-Seul dispel reigning NWO illusions. These include the conviction that the world is better off with the Cold War ended, that the world's poor bear primary responsibility for their condition, that the free market can solve the very problems it has created, that ideology has disappeared, that God underwrites the human sacrifice required by the emergent brave new world, and that utopias have outlived their usefulness. According to the Rivage-Seuls, such illusions prevent inhabitants of the developed world from recognizing the literal impossibility of continuing economics of untargeted economic growth celebrated by triumphalistic free marketeers. Left to itself, they argue, the market not only manufactures increasing quantities of "throw-away" people, it destroys the very foundations on which untargeted growth depends, environmentally speaking. Not content with negative criticism, the Rivage-Seuls show the necessity of establishing North/South solidarity and reviving Judeo-Christian traditions of community concern, selflessness, and humanism. A Kinder and Gentler Tyranny provides students of political and intellectual history, economics, Third World studies, theology and contemporary studies with an antidote to the prevailing conviction that the human race has somehow reached the end


I am pleased to introduce A Kinder and Gentler Tyranny by Mike and Peggy Rivage-Seul. It intends to develop for English-speaking audiences the latest work of the Departamento Ecuménico de Investigaciones (DEI) of San José, Costa Rica. In 1992, the Rivage-Seuls worked with us for a semester at the DEI. They were the first North Americans to participate in our annual workshop for invited researchers. In the fall of 1994, they returned to us for further research. In our work together, their manuscript attracted my attention as creatively interpreting for North American audiences DEI themes surrounding the free market fetishism which marks the so-called New World Order (NWO).

Since 1977 the DEI has been tracing international capitalism's drive to self- destruction inherent in its treatment of products as persons and consumers as things. All during the 1970s and 1980s, the system's necrophilia necessitated unprecedented human sacrifice at the hands of the National Security States which functioned to make conditions safe for capitalism throughout the Third World. The efforts of the then-reigning military dictatorships were papered over with a "veil of appearances." The disguise enabled the cult of death to be portrayed as a celebration of life. The veil theologically misrepresented the biblical God as requiring blood libations on behalf of the worldwide system of private property.

Obviously, the world has changed drastically since the DEI's foundation. To most, capitalism now appears stronger than ever. Its alternative has apparently disappeared with the simultaneous demise of the Soviet Union and the discrediting of historic socialism. "Democracy" has reportedly displaced both National Security States and communist dictatorships. In the words of Francis Fukuyama, we have finally reached "the end of history." Utopias are dead. Capitalism has no alternatives. It stands triumphant for all to see.

These are the NWO illusions which A Kinder and Gentler Tyranny tries to dispel. Here the Rivage-Seuls offer nothing less than a trenchant critique of Western culture and its underlying spirituality. The book relentlessly focuses on DEI themes of the "impossibility" of the capitalist system, and of the "human sacrifice" the free market requires for its maintenance. Additionally, this book centralizes the destructive nature of "market totalitarianism" and its inevitable tendency to "marginallze" environmental concerns. It shows how the New World Order creates a global underclass of "debt slaves" "excluded" from a "utopian" universalization of the American Way of Life. Yet the system persists . . .

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