||Issue No. 195||12 September 2003|
Coalition of the Swilling
Interview: Crowded Lives
Activists: Life With Brian
Industrial: National Focus
Unions: If These Walls Could Talk
Economics: Beating the Bastards
Media: Three Corners
History: The Brisbane Line
Trade: The Dumping Problem
Review: Frankie's Way
The Locker Room
Coalition of the Swilling
On it surface the Cancun talks have little to do with the shocking loss of life sustained two years ago, but that the stalemate over market access has prompted a farmer to stab himself to death must give some pause for thought.
As the liberal West struggles to understand why Islamic fundamentalists continue to turn themselves into human missiles, even the most fervent anti-globalist would be looking at the sacrifice of Korean farm leader Lee Kyaung-have and asking themselves 'why?'. I know I am.
Way too much has been written about 9/11. The events that have unfolded since show how little this chatter has led us to anything approaching comprehension.
But what can be stated is that gross inequities in power and wealth create the climate where extremism flourishes; throw in a fundamentalist doctrine and you have a potent brew.
The same heady mix can be found at Cancun, the latest round of the World Trade Organisation talks where the ringleaders may preach free trade but do so in the knowledge that their masters are not really serious about pulling down the barriers.
As our man on the ground in Cancun, Peter Murphy, points out, while 21 developing nations representing half the world's farmers may have created an alliance to create a fairer trade in agriculture, their chances of getting support from the West are slim.
On the issue of attacking Iraq the US and Europe may have been at loggerheads, but on the far more enduring issue of trade they are as one.
Protection for wealthy farmers - and the right of their governments to dump subsidised produce on to world markets - is regarded as a right that won't be bargained away.
Unlike the Coalition of the Willing, John Howard and Australian farmers are locked out of this club. Australia's problem is that - unlike the group of 21 - while we argue for market access for our farmers, we don't really want to upset the applecart.
As our pursuit of bilateral agreements show - for us its about getting in on the racket not about rewriting the rules for admission.
For all we care farmers in developing nations, like Mr Kim's South Korean colleagues, can continue to at best struggle and in some cases starve, unable to compete with the First World beneficiaries of protection.
And if the Cancun meeting is futile and the dumping and protectionism continues and the WTO remains a joke and if more people see death as the only form of protest left, then we should not cry foul.
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