The powerful leaders who dominate our world can't possibly imagine the effects of what they do and say. They're just as limited as ordinary people in their capacity to imagine other people. So at some point, beyond their circle of associates and assorted other people close to them, they see everyone as part of an abstraction. This is the only excuse I can come up with for their actions and beliefs.
Although they are coming apart, the Washington Consensus and the notion of a supposedly market-based global economy still dominate an awful lot of thinking by the powerful and those who would be. This is true across the political spectrum. Many progressives still churn in these waters looking for how to rescue "developing countries." Their vision of well-being is a world full of worker-bees educated to do jobs which perpetuate the wealth of the owners in mindless if clean and safe work places that have little or no connection to family and social connectivity and the things that give meaning to life. This vision advocates health and safety for people I suspect to keep them well enough to function efficiently in their jobs. Education is for giving necessary work skills. I suspect leaders tell themselves that that what's good for them is good for their workers. Their world would be a world of freeways, box stores, faceless corporations, industrial agriculture in which animals are nothing more than product, crops nothing more than feed (not food) for the masses. Housing units -- not homes -- can march across barren landscapes, hundreds of them, squeezed together near where people work.
Mexico is caught in the crosshairs of this vision. It is still being urged and directed to develop according to the standards set by those who would perpetuate their own hold on the world, both within Mexico and outside it. I really think we have to stop being blinded by beliefs that this is somehow proven by science as the inevitable path of human development, with false or deceptive evidence used to support it.
The vision is shared across the spectrum of establishment economic leaders. Among assumptions underlying this vision:
1. That the world should be/can be conceived as one macroeconomic entity to which there are right ways and wrong ways to belong.
2. That the tools to "fix" what are called second and third tier countries are more or less the same and should be administered by people who are experts in this particular view of economics.
3. That competition drives the world economy and that all countries need to be competitive in more or less the same way. This vision ignores the fact that competition presumes winners and losers.
4. The necessity for there to be sustained (endless) economic growth to ensure the well being of "every Mexican in the long term."
5. That this system will benefit everyone....trickle down economics, anyone?
For details, read The Mexico Competitiveness Report put out by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Harvard University.
This has evolved into a religious ideology presented as if it were scientific truth. Like theologies and ideologies before, it has come to be used as a prop for the richest and those craving wealth and power to try to pull the wool over the eyes of the rest of us, and also themselves: self-deception and denial affect us all.**
The environmental disaster of the Gulf of Mexico is just the currently most obvious demonstration of the failure of global capitalism. Global warming is another manifestation, but in fact everywhere we look, we can see the problems, from poor people who are obese, trailing plastic wrappers down their streets, to the difficulty of finding potable water to the growing rootless crowds of unemployed and marginally employed urban and peri-urban dwellers.
Unfortunately, the Mexican government continues to measure its economic performance by this same model. It is still trying to obtain more and more foreign investment from faceless international (more US than anything else) companies, trying to build jobs in this business and manufacturing sector. Not investing nearly enough in alternatives which should involve efforts to help local people survive at a local level.
BUT there are signs of resistance. People are catching on. Ordinary people here in Mexico.
Below you see a demonstration in Jacolmulco, Veracruz, Mexico against the building of hydroelectric dams for the purpose of selling electricity to the industrial north of the country.
In the accompanying article in the Diario de Xalapa, Celia Gayosso reports that foreign businesses from Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Spain want to build 190 diversions of the Los Pescaudos-La Antigua river basin to create a hydroelectric dam. Apparently the only way to prevent this "ecocide" would be to have the upper part of the river a protected natural area.
The mayor of Jalcolmulco joined in the demonstration to defend the river on which 75% of the economic activity of the municipality depends. He pointed out that tourism, the most significant activity, is "an industry without smokestacks."
Jalcolmulco and its river basin make up one of several areas threatened by dams. A representative of the alliance of communities and users of the river Bobo-Nautla, Héctor Colio Gallindo, pointed out that these businesses are foreign businesses with Mexican names trying to use the water that belongs to Veracruzanos. These private businesses want to make electricity to sell to the north of the country [big industry in Monterrey] by deviating up to 90% of the flow of rivers in Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz. The only benefit for the people whose rivers are thus diverted would be the rent which the CFE would pay for infrastructure which would not create more than three jobs. The rivers would be drained to such a low level that fish would not survive.
There was a demonstration in Zongolica also under threat of construction of a hydroelectric dam. It was pointed out that the rivers provide livelihood through fishing, agriculture, and tourism to 75% of the residents in a way that is not as destructive as hydroelectric dams and big industry.
The article mentions that the mayor of Jalcomulco, Gilberto Ruiz Chiviz pointed out that the community is taking up activities recommended in "Agenda 21", an international council under the UN which addressed sustainable development. He added that, thanks to the variety of people who live in and visit Jalcomulco, they have learned how to undertake their activities even though the national laws on the environment and tourism are obsolete.
He described how the civil organization has propelled the defense of the river, of water, and of economic and tourist activity. Campesinos have stopped felling trees in order to plant peanuts and maize and to dedicate themselves to forestation, because of which the tucans have returned, as have the white-tailed deer.
The community's activities continue in the struggle to develop and maintain a sustainable economy for the region.
**It is important to distinguish between knowledge of a scientific and technical sort and moral and ethical knowledge. Condemning global capitalism is not condemning scientific and technical (and artistic, historical or any other kind of knowledge). It is not urging people to return to some kind of non-existent idyllic past. It is saying that our ability to change our lives and our environment has far outpaced our ability to evaluate and channel those changes in an ethical fashion, to subject them in ways which would seek to minimize planetary damages, maximize well-being, to understand that nothing is without a downside and that the notion that progress within our western model will be continuous and inevitable is an illusion.