The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed “free trade” agreement between the european union and the united states, with the supposed aim of promoting trade and multilateral economic growth. The u.s. government considers the TTIP a companion agreement to the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). Negotiations, which are held in secret from the public, are on-going and should be finalised by 2020.
The final aim of the exercise may be summed up as the legal recognition of the economic and political supremacy of transnational corporations over national legislation. (For a summary of what is at stake, one may consult the websites War On Want and Global Justice Now).
On the occasion of Carlos Taibo‘s recently published work, Para entender el TTIP. Una visión crítica del Acuerdo Transatlántico de Comercio e Inversiones/To Understand the TTIP. A Critical Vision of the Transatlantic Agreement of Commerce and Investment (Catarata, Madrid, January 2016), we share below, in translation, an interview that he gave on the subject for CTXT (February 3, 2016). (A portuguese language translation of the same interview can be found here).
How will the TTIP affect European citizens?
Despite the secrecy of the negotiations, we know some of its content. And it is this opacity that leads us to understand that the agreement will produce a visible deterioration of our situation, socially, work wise and environmentally.
Still worse than it is already?
It is difficult to understand that after the tightening of the screws that capital has impressed on the EU, that matters can still get worse. But yes, because its audacity knows no bounds. Now it intends to make its domain irreversible. For example, something as simple as a municipality cannot remunicipalise water service. We live a phase of mad capitalism that I think has lost any sense of limits which in the past allowed it to save face.
The Indian writer Arundhati Roy has predicted that “capitalism will fail as communism did.” What do you think?
It is a complex debate. There are arguments to shore up two different options. One is Roy’s. The other is that which outlines an extremely violent capitalism, with aspirations to move forward with a project of militarised “social Darwinism” or “ecofascism”, that involves the visible marginalization that we have already begun to suffer, or in the extreme, the extermination of much of the planet’s population.
But this second project is another form of collapse.
Definitely. To say that 800 million human beings must survive out of a total of 7,000 million indicates the dimensions of the madness and summons us to a diagnosis similar to that of Arundhati Roy.
Do we live a silent war for world trade?
Something of that exists, but it has yet to erupt in all its magnitude. But let us make no mistake: China and India do not offer an alternative model to capitalism. Some consider that both countries have incorporated many of the most negative elements of colonial capitalism, for instance the extraction of absolute surplus value such as found in nineteenth century Europe. Those who would argue that the emerging economies represent an alternative model are wrong. They are but an obstacle that traditional capitalism wants to elminate.
Is the TTIP the management of an economic NATO?
I think that this is a proper comparison. The TTIP is not a neutral agreement that simply aims to remove duplication or cancel tariffs. It is a well founded project, which reflects the eternal struggle of international capitalism between some models and other, different ones.
And what role does the TTIP reserve to States?
Undoubtedly they lose sovereignty, but with an important caveat: one should not idealize States as agents of opposition to the violence of transnational capital. In my opinion, the vast majority of States are part of this story the moment they decided, some time ago, to stop protecting citizens.
Do you think that is impossible to change the system from within?
I do not see a single solid indicator. To think that institutions are neutral is symptomatic of the ingenuousness of thought of the current left. They believe that if today the TTIP is approved, that tomorrow it can be repealed under a new majority. It is not like this. In the case of such a treaty, I have no doubt they will succeed in taking this taxt forward in one form or another. I fear that the left will be trapped if it does not decide to break dramatically with the current dynamic and call for disobedience.
But building a new society from below, at the margin of institutions, also lacks consistent models to which one could look.
Yes, this I grant. However, I do not believe that it is the ideal moment to once again play the game of banging one’s head up against the same institutions.
Greece could be the example of the failure of a reforming left.
Yes. A year ago, we were all Greeks in solidarity with a people who were facing the ignominy of the Troika. Even a referendum was won that sson after the government failed to abide by. Today nothing remains of it. There’s Syriza agreeing with Netanyahu. Greece is the textbook example of how far one can get playing within the institutions.
What does it signify that a political party like the PP [Partido Popular] , mired up to their eyebrows in corruption, has returned to win the election and has a chance to govern?
It is an indicator that corruption is functional to the system and that a good part of the public believes that corruption is a forgivable sin. To all this we must add that the alternative forces, especially the PSOE [Partido Socialista Obrero Español], can not provide a better resume.
You do not believe in liberal democracy?
No. The forms are so marked and vested interests are so obvious that to believe in it at this point is absurd.
What about the emerging political parties?
Any plan that seeks to amend the regime is a blind project. These parties pose an interesting discussion around corruption, bipartisanship and even the republic, but without speaking of the system, that is, wage labor, the ecological crisis, patriarchal society. Their silence on these issues is striking.
But Podemos, for example, defends frist addressing the urgent problems, to then, from the position of power, to start deeper changes.
Personally I think it is a false discourse because it is not possible. Therefore, I feel that the emergent political forces are machines that the system itself has decided to promote because it needed some oxygen.
Do you think that the eruption of Podemos has demobilised citizen protest?
It is not the cause, but it has been a very useful response. The intelligent spokespersons of the system can thank Podemos, for it has served to put a brake on a serious risk, namely that a part of the population assume a strategy of frontal confrontation, almost revolutionary.
Are you an anarchist?
I once heard a friend say that it must be others who say whether one is or not an anarchist, so as to avoid to fall into arrogance. I define myself as a libertarian. I believe in self-management, self-organization, in direct action and mutual aid, but I do not identify with sectarian anarchism as such.
From Periodico Diagonal, a video on the political implications of TTIP, with english subtitles …