14. Gobbleisation
Do we risk being gobbled up by the global production machine? Are we worth gobbling up? This must be the question being asked in Washington DC, as the 'captains of industry' weigh up the pros and cons of where to shift production as they attempt to carve up the world's markets into manageable chunks. Ironically, the process has more in common with the 19th century than it does with the 21st as Maggie Thatcher knew only too well.

In 1890, at the historic Berlin Conference, the major european powers sat down and carved up Africa (hence the number of straight lines on the map), with Britain getting the lion's share followed by France, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Holland and Belgium.

So, 110 years later, where a minority of the world's population now actually live in an 'age of abundance' as predicted by a dotless commie Karl Marx, the developing world faces its greatest crisis, where a significant percentage of its population will simply 'disappear' over the next decade or so, due either to the AIDS pandemic and our impoverished populations' inability to resist its advance or, perhaps more precisely because they are 'surplus to requirement' in this age of abundance.

But what is gobbleisation? Gobbleisation is the process of swallowing the world's economy (or the bits that matter) and arranging them according to the needs of the five hundred or so, transnational corporations that determine (insofar as they can), how this new configuration should function. The irony of this process is the fact that there's very little to choose between one of these companies and the state-owned monoliths of the former socialist states, or even to our own parastatals.

But the two differ radically in this new, homogenised marketplace, in how they function, as indeed they always have done, namely, the former socialist state-owned corporations had no reason to want to know what its 'market' wanted (it refused to recognise the existence of the market) and the capitalist equivalent simply went ahead and created markets for the products it was churning out. That is after all, the capitalist imperative: Expand or die.

But translated into the 'global' marketplace that exists between local pockets of abundance, the notion of the market changes radically from its national counterpart. In order for it to function effectively, it has to do its level best to 'level out the playing field' else the cost of doing business gets too high (this is another way of saying flatten the competition and make everybody play by their rules). So much for the 'market'.

Increasingly, global marketing campaigns are demanding ever more compliance from nation states in how they relate to these new, 'metanationals' as Kim Stanley Robinson described them in his science fiction trilogy, "Red Mars", "Blue Mars" and "Green Mars", a future history about the colonisation of the planet.

This process has already begun through the innocent sounding, 'sponsorship' process. Increasingly, corporate culture is imposing itself on national cultures and demanding the same kind of status as that once reserved only for nation states.

Metanationals function by replacing the role of the state, through a weird kind of 'out-sourcing'. For example, a small third world country can't afford to defend itself so it rents an army and all the infrastructure from an arms/defense metanational or even a group of them. In return, the metanational gets favourable access to the country's raw materials or whatever. This is sponsorship of an entire nation state!

Eventually, the metanationals start competing with each other through acquisitions and finally use the mercenary forces they've created to fight 'local' wars with, over access to raw materials. Guess where these are?

The scary thing about this scenario is it ain't science fiction! To take just one example, the role of the big oil companies in shaping the political destinies of nearly all the middle eastern countries, is well documented.

But why is it, that when anyone starts viewing history as a conspiracy, people accuse you of being paranoid or outright wacky? Perhaps it's because most of us view reality as being inevitable, something 'found' rather than something consciously planned or even more outrageous, something we might even be able to control!

Of course it's not like in 1890 at the Berlin Conference, the leaders of the imperialist world hatched a plan to control the destiny of the world for the next 100 years, is it?*

* Serious students of history might want to read the memoirs/writings of R. Buckminster Fuller on this subject. Less serious students should check out Thomas Pynchon's hilarious/serious "Gravity's Rainbow" for a fictional account of pretty much the same process.

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