Re: "New Age Racists"?

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From: Kragen Sitaker (
Date: Tue Nov 28 2000 - 15:33:00 PST

Yangkun Zhang quotes Matt Jensen quoting him:
> >>They may be well-meaning, but it makes it no less racist.
> > No, it absolutely makes it less racist. The article called the protesters
> > racists because they intended to keep the poor poor, to make their own
> I'm sure the Religious-Right is extremely well-meaning when they seek to
> have all women stay home and raise kids, but it doesn't make it any less
> sexist. I'm sure some Southern-Democrats back in the 19th century were
> extremely well meaning when they figured that blacks were better off staying
> on the plantations and "protected" by their previous masters, but it makes
> it no less racist. A person can be well-meaning and still be racist.

If the article claimed the protesters were racists and used as evidence
that they wanted to keep the poor poor, but the protesters do not, in
fact, want to keep the poor poor, then the article does not tend to
show that the protesters were racists --- only that the author of the
article is lying or misinformed.

Racism consists of three beliefs:
- that humanity is divisible into different "races" of people,
  distinguished by heredity;
- that some of these races are superior to others;
- that this justifies members of the superior races dominating the
  members of the inferior races.

These beliefs can be subconscious or conscious. Most inhabitants of
the US agree with the first point; most consciously disagree with the
second, but behave as if they agreed with it, suggesting they
subconsciously agree with it; fewer believe the third, but it is
certainly not an uncommon belief.

These beliefs are the foundation of conservatism; indeed, conservatism
divides humanity far more finely than mere racism, asserting even that
different families of people in the same clan are hereditarily superior
and inferior to one another. I was rather shocked to read John Boyer
suggesting that some or most conservatives weren't racist; if racism is
fallacious, conservatism is fundamentally nonsensical. (I suppose you
can tell what I think about this.)

I suspect these beliefs are far less common among the anti-WTO
protesters than among the general US public, but I'm sure they're
there. I disagree with the thesis that the tenets of racism were
motivated the protests.

> > Does that
> > mean everyone was racist because they didn't fly to Malaysia and interview
> > workers themselves?
> It makes them especially prone to subtle, systemic racism.

Sure, but it doesn't ensure that they will get caught up in it.

> It is appalling that the left in the Western countries can be so filled with
> arrogance that they can systematically ignore their own inbred racist
> tendencies and think that they know what is best for foreigners. Why don't
> read some English language newspapers from Hong Kong, Singapore, India,
> Japan, etc. They're fairly unanimous in condemning the left in the West and
> the US in particular on labour issues.

Well, I looked at --- an English language
newspaper from India --- and searched for "WTO". I couldn't find any
condemnation of the West and the US in particular on labor issues.
Here are some URLs I found., "APEC stresses relevance
amid globalisation doubts":

        BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Caught off-guard by a backlash against
        globalisation, the Asia-Pacific's top regional grouping is
        trying to rebrand itself as a friend of the poor and downplay
        its role as a champion of free trade.

        Officials of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
        (APEC) forum, in Brunei for their leaders' annual summit next
        week, say the institution must throw off its image as a tool of
        big business if it is to survive.

        They say growing doubts about the merits of globalisation --
        the creation of a single world marketplace without tariffs or
        other barriers to business -- threaten to put APEC seriously
        out of step with many of its people.

. . .

        Seattle erupted in a torrent of protests against free trade
        with demonstrators challenging the right of developed nations
        to force open, as they saw it, the markets of poorer nations.

        Since the WTO talks collapsed and a new round of global trade
        talks was put on hold, opposition to globalisation has become
        more fashionable. Within APEC, arguments against free trade
        that were previously suppressed have emerged.

        Malaysia, always reluctant to open some of its own markets and
        suspicious of the motives of the United States, has openly
        questioned the benefits of an early new round.

        "I have very serious doubts about anything shaping out of
        Brunei, because there is not yet any sign of a credible agenda
        that is of interest to both developed and developing
        countries," Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister
        Rafidah Aziz told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

. . .

        Peru's ambassador to APEC, Elard Escala, says APEC has not
        changed, but it is adjusting its emphasis to put more stress on
        the impact it can have on the citizens of the Pacific Rim.

        "We believe this 'third pillar' [the three pillars are free
        trade, improving communication and trading links, and economic
        and technical cooperation --KJS] is absolutely crucial," he said.
        "Without this we believe we cannot reduce the disparities
        between the developing and the developed world.", "India to ask WTO
nations to remove subsidies":

        He said the government was seriously contemplating a hike in
        import duty of palmoleine oil to dissuade its import from
        Malaysia and Indonesia.

        Earlier, addressing a gathering on the occasion, he said once
        the markets become fully operational under the WTO, the
        government would not hesitate in hiking the import duty and
        adopting anti-dumping measures to discourage imports. He cited
        the example of apples, on which import duty had been
        increased., "US sees WTO deal on
fresh talks by 2001":

        "We, Europe and a number of the developing countries have been
        in the process of laying quite a bit of groundwork for it,"
        [US Trade Representative Charlene] Barshefsky said by
        telephone. "And I think the question is not whether there will
        be a new round, but when. It's reasonable to presume that a new
        round will be inaugurated, certainly, within the next year."

        Her views were more optimistic than those voiced by others
        gathering here ahead of the APEC summit.

        Malaysia - which believes the WTO still hasn't done enough to
        meet the concerns of developing countries - has expressed
        skepticism that APEC will even call for WTO talks, given the
        deep divisions between rich and poor nations in the WTO., "Australia blasts Malaysia...":

        BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Simmering divisions within APEC exploded
        into the open Saturday as Australia accused Malaysia of being
        out of step by criticising efforts to open a new round of World
        Trade Organisation talks.

        A Malaysian attack on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
        (APEC) forum's ability to set the trade agenda left host
        country Brunei's efforts to forge a show of unity in tatters.

        APEC leaders, including US President Bill Clinton, will meet
        here next week and are expected to demand a new round of global
        trade liberalisation talks.

        But Malaysian Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz poured cold water on
        the proposed consensus declaration, arguing there could be no
        new WTO agenda while several issues from previous rounds
        remained unresolved.

        Her claim that there was no sign of "a credible agenda of
        interest to both developed and developing countries" brought a
        sharp response from Australian Foreign Minister Alexander

        "It doesn't make sense for Malaysia not to want better access
        to developed markets," Downer said.

        "Of the 21 economic members here, most would see that it made
        common sense to have better (global) market access," he said.

        "We think that the fastest and most efficient way to do that
        will be to launch a new WTO round."

        He dismissed Malaysia's fears that globalisation will do more
        harm than good to developing economies.

        "It's not in the interest of developing economies in APEC to
        stop the campaign to get better market access," he said.

        "They urgently need better market access to developed markets."

Hmm, so according to the Times of India, industrialized countries like
Australia and the US are trying to push more WTO talks, and poorer
countries like Malaysia and Peru are worried that the WTO isn't meeting
their needs, and APEC, historically a major force for globalization, is
deemphasizing free trade.

How about another Indian newspaper? The Hindu is a major
English-language newspaper in southern India. I browsed their site,, a bit.

The first article I found that mentions trade issues is an editorial at, which says:

        Indeed, an entirely artificial - and politically bogus -
        distinction is being sought to be invented between the BJP [one
        of the biggest political parties in India] and the Congress
        [Party --- historically the biggest political party in India,
        although I don't think it is today] on the issue of
        globalisation and its implications for the domestic economy.

        First it was the Congress which, during the Narasimha Rao-
        Manmohan Singh era, pretended that globalisation/liberalisation
        was a painless process, that there were no hidden costs for any
        section of the society, and that it was only ``continuity with
        change''. That was the time the BJP developed the propensity to
        appropriate for itself the nationalist mantle and accuse the
        Congress and the subsequent Congress-supported United Front
        regime of selling out on national sovereignty. The last major
        economic resolution adopted by its National Executive (July
        1997) before the BJP got to form the Government at the Centre
        had talked of ``the false slogan of globalisation, the fatal
        attraction of unrestrained consumerism, the aping of the West,
        the concern for the comfort of the few at the cost of the vast
        millions, the lurking dangers to our cultural values and the
        emerging threat to our sovereignty...''

        Now, with the zeal of a new convert, a BJP-led Government has
        moved into the fast lane to globalisation at breakneck speed.
        Like its predecessor Governments, the Vajpayee regime also
        maintains the fiction that globalisation will bring prosperity
        for one and all, and that no one will have to pay any price.
        The NDA Government has vigorously committed itself to the
        second generation of reforms, and even presumably ``social
        justice'' men such as Mr. Sharad Yadav and Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan
        are being enlisted in the task of privatisation. This is not
        surprising. What is surprising is the entirely futile argument
        whether the BJP Government was in too much of a hurry to remove
        quantitative restrictions on imports or whether it was the
        Congress regime that committed the original sin.

Hmm, so the two most important political parties in India are trying to
blame each other for globalization. Sounds like globalization isn't
popular with your average Indian voter, maybe?

More importantly, the article quotes the Indian government as calling
globalization a "false slogan", calling consumerism a "fatal
attraction", and implying that they endangered the "vast millions" and
posed a "threat to our sovereignty" --- three years ago.

The editorial continues, in case you weren't sure what its author thinks:

        It is imperative, therefore, to recognise that the process of
        globalisation imposes inherent inequalities on a developing
        country such as India. Inequalities of information, skills, and
        above all, of mental toughness. Our decision-makers at the very
        top have to toughen themselves to fight out this unequal battle
        to the best of our collective advantage; this is the true test
        of the much-touted deshbhakti. We cannot delude ourselves by
        putting our faith in the inherent reasonableness and civility
        of the rest of the world, particularly of the West.

        But this battle cannot be won at the elite level alone. Masses
        will have to be mobilised in this battle if the country has to
        withstand the WTO-related pressures and unfairness. Just as
        successive Governments have imaginatively used the domestic
        opposition to stall concessions on CTBT, it is time to speak
        honestly to the country about the demands and expectations from
        abroad in the name of globalisation. The rulers will have to
        trust the citizens if they want ``reforms'' and the New Economy
        to become a collective enterprise.

But wait! I finally found an article in The Hindu with a ringing
endorsement of the WTO,

        The number of anti-dumping cases, in particular, rose sharply
        after the Asian financial crisis as Governments sought to
        prevent their markets being flooded with inexpensive imports
        from hard- hit economies. Currently, there are six cases before
        anti-dumping panels. The WTO mechanism is the only system of
        its kind which offers developing countries a chance to protect
        their trading rights. It helps defuse trade tensions by
        encouraging Governments to settle their differences peacefully
        at the negotiating table. Significantly, trade battles at the
        WTO have been the exception rather than the rule.

Nice. Except the author is the secretary-general of the WTO, not an Indian.

Here's another article, from The Hindu's financial daily, Businessline ---

        NEW DELHI, July 23 [1999]

        THE Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) under the Ministry
        of Commerce has sought to tackle the ``pathological'' reaction
        to the World Trade Organisation by launching a bi-monthly _
        `Focus WTO'.

        According to Prof. B. Bhattacharyya of the IIFT, this is a
        consequence of the efforts being made to analyse the impact of
        conformity to the WTO and develop possible support measures, it
        requires rather than oppose the process of liberalisation.

        ``The increasing pervasiveness of WTO's received and evolving
        mandate is too important to be mentioned. WTO is a reality.
        What is crucial at this juncture is how best one can prepare
        the country to face the impending challenges of WTO and the
        irreversible progression towards globalisation,'' he notes.

        The objective of the journal, he points out, is to present news
        and views, somewhat divergent on WTO issues. Each issue has a
        specific theme, the current one being `Trade and Environment'.
        Each issue has three sections. The first section carries lead
        articles, while the second section presents a snapshot of news
        appearing in the domestic and international press.

        The third section is rather unique. It carries excerpts of
        complete official documents which are not easily available to
        trade and industry as well as the academia and other

        It is hoped that this effort by the IIFT would be useful for
        both industry and academics, he said.

So there's a "pathological" reaction to the WTO in India, and the
Ministry of Commerce is trying to foster better reactions by publishing
a bi-monthly magazine to it.

It seems that Indian reservations about the WTO and globalization go
back some time, too --- I don't suppose I need to mention Gandhi's
khadi program, but here's a Businessline article from 1996,

        But India remained steadfast in its objective of rejecting out-
        right the inclusion of investment on the WTO agenda as it still
        feels that the only forum for this is UNCTAD.

        However, Malaysia and Thailand which were earlier vocal in
        their opposition to investment issue being taken up by the WTO
        have abandoned their stance. There is a fear that India might
        stand alone in its insistence on investment not to be taken up
        by the WTO.

I suspect public opinion in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan will tend
to side with the US government and against the US left --- after all,
nobody disputes that globalization helps wealthy countries like these,
only whether it helps or harms poor countries like Malaysia, India,
Indonesia, and mainland China.

>From the English-language newspapers you yourself recommended, Yangkun,
it is clear that the popular opinion in India is strongly
anti-globalization, that the governments of both India and Malaysia
have strong reservations about globalization. It appears that the same
is true of popular opinion in other third-world countries, but
verifying that would take more effort than I'm willing to spend this

Let me quote you again, Yangkun Zhang:

> It is appalling that the left in the Western countries can be so filled with
> arrogance that they can systematically ignore their own inbred racist
> tendencies and think that they know what is best for foreigners. Why don't
> read some English language newspapers from Hong Kong, Singapore, India,
> Japan, etc.

If that is the test of racism, it appears that you have shown yourself
to be full of these same inbred racist tendencies, Yangkun; your
arrogant, paternalistic insistence that free trade is "what is good
for" poor countries is roundly rejected by the inhabitants of those
same countries.

Whenever I take the time to take apart one of your venomous posts,
Yangkun, your facts turn out to be inventions, your logic sophistry,
and your ethics vapid. These are complex and difficult issues, and
your simplistic, dishonest, hate-filled attacks only shroud the real
problems in smoke and make rational discussion impossible.

<>       Kragen Sitaker     <>
Perilous to all of us are the devices of an art deeper than we possess
       -- Gandalf the White [J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Two Towers", Bk 3, Ch. XI]

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