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Primitive Accumulation, Accumulation by Dispossession and the Global Land Grab

Critical scholars have made extensive use of the concepts of primitive accumulation and accumulation by dispossession to analyse the global land grab. These concepts have been crucial to efforts to understand the land grab in terms of the creation, expansion and reproduction of capitalist social relations, of accumulation by extra-economic means, and of dispossessory responses to capitalist crises. This paper provides an overview of these approaches. It also argues that there are substantial challenges involved in the use of primitive accumulation and accumulation by dispossession, including tensions and ambiguities over what the concepts mean, the assumptions embedded within them and problems of fit with other conceptualisations of the land grab. The paper also highlights resources for engaging with these challenges in the land grab literature.

Land Grabs Today: Feeding the Disassembling of National Territory

This essay by Saskia Sassen focuses on the larger assemblage of elements that promoted and facilitated the sharp increase in foreign land acquisitions by governments and firms since 2006. The concern is not to document the empirics of foreign land acquisition. Conceptually the essay negotiates between the specifics of the current phase of land acquisitions, on the one hand, and, on the other, the assemblage of practices, norms, and shifting jurisdictions within which those acquisitions take place. This assemblage of diverse elements does not present itself explicitly as governance. But I argue it is a type of governance embedded in larger structural processes shaping our global modernity; in fact, it may have had deeper effects on the current phase of land acquisitions than some of the explicit governance instruments for regulating land acquisitions. This mode of analysis is based on the conceptual and methodological work I developed in my book, Territory, Authority, Rights (Sassen, 2008); put succinctly it proposes that to explain the x (in this case, foreign land acquisitions) requires a focus on the non-x (in this case, that larger assemblage of elements that amounts to a structural enablement and embedded governance). This deeper structural level is also what makes the current phase of land acquisitions potentially deeply consequential, to the point of signaling the further disassembling of national territory. Such disassembling can enable the rise of a new type of global geopolitics, one where national sovereign territory increasingly is subject to non-national systems of authority — from familiar IMF and WTO conditionality to elementary controls by diverse foreign actors over growing stretches of a country's land. Keywords: Land Acquisitions, Land Grabs, Assemblages, Territory, Authority, Rights, Expulsions

The Global Land Grab (Transnational Institute)

A concise and indispensable critical guide to the global phenomenon of land grabbing. Find out how the global land grab is "justified", what is driving it, why transparency and guidelines won't stop it, and learn about alternatives that could enable people and communities to regain control of their land and territories.

Inside the Secretive World of Tax-Avoidance Experts (OffshoreAlert)

(Brooke Harrington) A behind-the-scenes, eye-witness account of the international wealth management profession from a sociologist who has spent the last eight years researching it, during which time she trained to become a wealth manager and visited 18 offshore jurisdictions.

The (Oppressively undemocratic, elitist) World Economic Forum is slowly taking over the UN

The World Economic Forum is a lobby of the 1000 largest multinational corporations calling itself “THE international organization for public-private cooperation”. According to the WEF, the most important political business and other leaders of society are involved in determining global, regional and industry agendas. The agenda is set by the 100 largest and most influential who contribute the most money. In all major countries, the forum has “hubs” in the largest cities, where the “global shapers” are networked with one another. The final GRI report was called “Everybody’s Business: Strengthening International Cooperation in a More Interdependent World” and was 600 pages long. The forum seems to have removed it from its website in the meantime. The link to download the report on the relevant page of the forum no longer works. There is a short version in the form of a Readers’ Guide on the website of the University of Massachusetts Boston, from which I will cite below. In the section titled “An Overview of the WEF’s Perspective” it says clearly that the goal is to replace the UN- and nations-based system of global governance by one that the corporations like better

"TISA's Threat to Democracy" A Trade Justice Alliance Webinar

"The TISA would override your Constitution, override your domestic laws" - 55:30 (Sanya Reid Smith) 2 hour video with: Sanya Reid Smith, Legal Advisor and Senior Researcher, Third World Network, Deborah James, Director of International Programs at the Center for Economic and Policy Research ABOUT TISA: TISA, the Trade in Services Agreement or TiSA, is the largest multilateral trade deal ever negotiated, and currently includes 50 countries. TiSA would set the rules for “services” that the text defines so broadly as to encompass almost all areas of our lives. TiSA would apply to approximately 80% of the global economy yet the massive corporate-designed agreement has been negotiated completely behind closed doors without public input. Without WikiLeaks, we would know very little. TiSA would inhibit regulations of the very banks that brought down the global economy, destroy online privacy and data protections and would legally codify global privatization of the commons, including access to clean water, public education and quality health care. TiSA would entrench neoliberal dirty energy projects like fracking and tar sands at the expense of renewables like solar and wind power. Despite President Trump’s proclaimed opposition to TPP, and his checkered messages around NAFTA, he has yet to say one word about TiSA which has farther-reaching implications.

The Trojan Horse of e-commerce.

The Trojan Horse of e-Commerce Professor Jane Kelsey (University of Auckland) Intellectual Property and Trade in the Pacific Century Brisbane, 22 June 2017 QUT Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Research Program The comprehensive chapter on electronic commerce in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) heralded a game changer in the negotiation of international rules. The benign chapter heading belies a fundamental rewriting of the international trade rules to serve the rapid growth of digital economy, controlled by a powerful oligopoly of mega-corporations. Their stated goal is to achieve global rules that protect them from national regulation of their activities for the indefinite future. The TPP text has since been tabled in the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) negotiations and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), judging by a leaked list of the headings of articles in the e-commerce chapter. If adopted, these rules would impose huge and unforeseeable fetters on the sovereignty of governments to regulate their economies, and address related issues of privacy, security and consumer protection. The cross-fertilisation of the e-commerce chapters with others on cross-border services, financial services, telecommunications and transparency would create a regime of unprecedented constraints and complexity that even advanced countries in RCEP would struggle to implement them, let alone the developing and least developed country parties in the RCEP.

Must See: Video from Senate from the very beginning of state capture in 1995

This is a MUST-WATCH video. Testimony before the US Senate by Sir James Goldsmith of the UK explaining to the Senate Commerce subcommittee on GATT how all FTAs particularly the new WTO are implementing changes that subsume democracy. Please watch the whole thing because some of the best testimony is in the middle and near the end.

Trading Away Our Jobs: How "free trade" threatens employment around the world.

The world is facing an economic crisis on a scale unseen since the Great Depression. Hundreds of millions of people stand to lose their jobs and their livelihoods as a result of the current recession, adding to the hundreds of millions who have already lost their livelihoods to the "free market" model of globalisation. Yet still politicians continue to proclaim their faith in the principles of "free trade" as the means to pull the global economy out of recession and create employment opportunities for the future. --- This report examines the empirical evidence of the impact of "free trade agreements" on jobs. Using studies and statistics collated here for the first time, the report shows how past trade "liberalisations" caused huge job losses in both Africa and Latin America, the two continents that bore the brunt of early experiments in "structural adjustment" and other "free trade" policies. Findings from those experiments reveal a pattern of deindustrialisation, job losses and falling wages whose impact continues to be felt to this day, condemning whole generations to unemployment and poverty and stifling hopes for sustainable development. (Note: This report was written in the UK but also applies to the US which along with the UK is likely next in line for massive "structural adjustment") Working people and the non-wealthy are invariably expected to pay the full price. Direct PDF URL: https://waronwant.org/sites/default/files/Trading%20Away%20Our%20Jobs.pdf

A $500 billion pot of gold: How Boston Consulting and Google pushed Modi to end the era of cash

“We expect the digital payments space to witness significant disruption in the days ahead.” "The disruption came on November 8, when Prime Minister Modi decreed that most of the cash notes by value were no longer legal means of payment. By itself, the remark about the “disruption in the days ahead” might be considered suggestive but weak evidence that BCG and Google knew something of those plans. However, combine this with the fact that they forecast a tenfold increase of digital payments and of the merchant acceptance network by 2020 without giving any real compelling reason why such an unlikely development should come to pass. In fact, the report is pretty heavy on reasons why it will be difficult to get many more merchants on board and says that the acceptance network has more or less stagnated in recent years. From stagnant, the growth rate has to jump to at least 60 percent per year (if you want to start 2015, more if the baseline is 2016) to make the forecast of a tenfold increase by 2020 come true. The only real reason given in the report for the expected stellar increase is mobile payment apps becoming available. This is not a very convincing reason for a large jump in the growth rate, as these apps have been around for a number of years already."

Comparing TiSA and TTIP

this is one of three documents which somebody posing as me uploaded some time ago to a site, around the same time as my twitter account was arbitrarily deleted. Although Its open access and says so, I had not uploaded it. So I find that as quite strange. Its still worth reading now, given that Biden has been elected so these deals are likely to both be revived soon. They set our country up for huge punitive penalties if we attempt to change our minds about the things that result in the highest fines ever recorded - for example. ISDS and non-ISDS work alikes like the sanctions in anti-democratic WTO deals should be eliminated. This is the URL that is linked. https://www.rosalux.rs/sites/default/files/publications/5_Comparing_TTIP_and_TiSA_web.pdf One of the others is "TISA vs Climate Action: Trading away EnergyDemocracy" That one is also quite topical. Its worrisom that ISDS could put our country on the hook for huge bills that could literally result in our natural resources like energy and water being sold off to pad the pockets or pay the debts created by - seized to pay debts incurred by our dishonest oligarchs, in the country's's peoples names.

transnational capitalist class

Trade deals effectuate an increase in the huge amounts of inequality in the world, and its partially done by means of what amounts to a cheap lawyers trick.

Enron's Global Crusade by Jon Nichols

"And Enron’s domestic activities are only a part of the story. To limit discussion of Enron to them is to miss the most dramatic lessons of this burgeoning scandal. “If you want to know where economic globalization along the lines cheered on by the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, George W. Bush and Tony Blair is headed, look at Enron. Globalization has created an international no man’s land where businesses survive by engaging in financial practices that no responsible nation-state would permit,” says Tony Benn, Britain’s former minister of industry. “When you allow corporations to write their own rules in the global marketplace, which is what has essentially been the case in recent years, you will see unimaginable abuses.” Enron was big on writing the rules. Before its collapse, it held a place on the board of the National Foreign Trade Council, which worked with the WTO to forge trade policy. It sponsored the 1999 World Services Congress in Atlanta, where, Polaris Institute researchers say, the services industry set its agenda for a new round of WTO negotiations. Along with its accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, Enron was at the center of the shadowy US Coalition of Service Industries’ campaign to negotiate General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) schemes that remove restrictions on international commerce involving services. The GATS negotiations, which have been going on for two years under the aegis of the WTO, were described at the World Economic Forum by former Clinton Administration Treasury Department official Stuart Eizenstat as a move to “allow [Arthur] Andersen to export its accounting services to the world.” Eizenstat’s attempt at humor was actually a blunt statement of reality. The first rules for a profession developed by the WTO as part of the GATS negotiations were for the accounting sector–and the rules were indeed shaped with a big assist from Arthur Andersen. So what might appropriately be dubbed “Enron accounting” is already in the process of going global. The loosening of rules governing sectors of the global economy in which Enron was involved was a long-term corporate priority. During the go-go years of business expansion in the 1990s, the company scoured the planet in search of opportunities in countries that were embracing–sometimes willingly, often under pressure from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund–“market-oriented reforms.” These public-policy shifts allowed multinational corporations to buy formerly public utilities and capitalize on the lifting of traditional regulations–moves that opened the door to aggressive global corporations like Enron. Forged in the last years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency by an ambitious former Pentagon economist named Ken Lay, Enron was a corporation designed to shape and then master the new economy of the post-cold war era. Lay preached what Britain’s Independent newspaper described as a “deregulation-happy philosophy” with such passion that The Economist would eventually describe Enron as “an evangelical cult” in which Lay was the messiah. Enron’s crusading globalism extended the corporation’s operations into virtually every sector of every economy worth owning a piece of, using all the tricks in the corporate globalizer’s handbook. “The thing that you have to understand about Enron is this: They have taken advantage of every opportunity globalization has presented them. They have been in the forefront of pushing deregulation and privatization, pushing for access to markets around the world, using pressure from the US government to open trade,” says the Polaris Institute’s Puscas. Once borders opened, once privatized industries were put up for sale and once sectors of economies were deregulated, Enron moved aggressively to gain advantage. Business Week explained that for companies like Enron, “the approach to globalization then was brutally simple: get in fast, strike megadeals with top officials, and watch the profits roll in.” Initially, it seemed, the model was working. Enron was often credited with putting new technologies to work in the service of its rapid expansion. But as much as the corporation benefited from the rise of the Internet, a case can be made that its bottom line gained at least as much from the opening of markets around the planet to swashbuckling corporate adventurers, who brought Texas-style business practice to Australia, Brazil and Croatia. Between 1998 and 2001 Enron’s foreign revenues increased from 7 percent to 23 percent of the company’s total revenues–adding $22.9 billion in 2001 to the coffers of a company that, it turns out, needed every cent it could get its hands on. Enron executives embraced the gospel of globalization with a fervor that portrayed free trade, deregulation, privatization and other planks in the neoliberal platform as the necessary and inevitable face of progress. “We are on the side of the angels,” declared former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling. “People want to have open, competitive markets.” That is a debatable point. When officials in the Indian state of Maharashtra took advantage of a recent relaxation of India’s restrictions on foreign investment to invite a joint venture led by Enron to build a power plant south of Bombay, nearby villagers were certainly not clamoring for the “open, competitive markets” Enron was offering. They worried that the Dabhol power-plant project would destroy their livelihoods and their environment. When they launched a movement to stop it, leading activists were dragged from their homes and beaten by Enron-paid “police” in what Human Rights Watch describes as “serious, sometimes brutal human rights violations carried out on behalf of the state’s and the company’s interests.” “Enron is now being widely accused of arrogance and lack of transparency, but the people of Dabhol have known that all along,” says Arvind Ganesan, who directs the group’s business and human rights program. “Enron was complicit in human rights abuse in India for several years.”

Put Globalization to Work for Democracies (and not the other way around)

By Dani Rodrik We need to rescue globalization not just from populists, but also from its cheerleaders. Globalization evangelists have done great damage to their cause not just by underplaying the real fears and concerns on which the Trumps of this world thrive, but by overlooking the benefits of a more moderate form of globalization. We must reassess the balance between national autonomy and economic globalization. Simply put, we have pushed economic globalization too far — toward an impractical version that we might call “hyperglobalization.” The transition to hyperglobalization is associated with two events in particular: the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s decision in 1989 to remove all restrictions on cross-border financial flows, and the establishment in 1995, after almost a decade of negotiations, of the World Trade Organization, with wide-ranging implications for domestic health and safety rules, subsidies and industrial policies. The new model of globalization stood priorities on their head, effectively putting democracy to work for the global economy, instead of the other way around. The elimination of barriers to trade and finance became an end in itself, rather than a means toward more fundamental economic and social goals. Societies were asked to subject domestic economies to the whims of global financial markets; sign investment treaties that created special rights for foreign companies; and reduce corporate and top income taxes to attract footloose corporations.