Republicans Have an Ambitious Agenda for the Supreme Court

Why the G.O.P. doesn’t need to try to pass mostly unpopular policies through the elected branches.

Not so long ago, Republicans had one of the most ambitious legislative agendas of any political party in modern American history.

Devised by the former House speaker, Paul Ryan, the so-called Ryan budget sought to reduce much of the nation’s social safety net to ashes. Congressional Republicans planned to slash Medicaid spending and food stamps. In the most aggressive version of Mr. Ryan’s proposal, Republicans would have replaced Medicare with “premium support” vouchers that could be used to buy private insurance, and then reduced the value of this subsidy every year — effectively eliminating traditional Medicare over time.

But all of that has changed. The Ryan budget is a relic. At their 2020 national convention, Republicans didn’t even bother to come up with a new platform.

Yet while the party appears to have no legislative agenda, it’s a mistake to conclude that it has no policy agenda. Because Republicans do: They have an extraordinarily ambitious agenda to roll back voting rights, to strip the government of much of its power to regulate, to give broad legal immunity to religious conservatives and to immunize many businesses from a wide range of laws.

It’s just that the Republican Party doesn’t plan to pass its agenda through either one of the elected branches. Its agenda lives in the judiciary — and especially in the Supreme Court.

From 2011, when Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives and denied President Barack Obama a governing majority, until the pandemic forced legislators’ hands in 2020, Congress enacted hardly any major legislation outside of the 2017 tax law.

In the same period, the Supreme Court

  • dismantled much of America’s campaign finance law;
  • severely weakened the Voting Rights Act;
  • permitted states to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion;
  • expanded new “religious liberty” rights permitting some businesses that object to a law on religious grounds to diminish the rights of third parties; 
  • weakened laws shielding workers from sexual and racial harassment; 
  • expanded the right of employers to shunt workers with legal grievances into a privatized arbitration system;
  • undercut public sector unions’ ability to raise funds; and
  •  halted Mr. Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Now, a 6-to-3 conservative-majority Supreme Court is likely to reshape the country in the coming decade, exempting favored groups from their legal obligations, stripping the Biden administration of much of its lawful authority, and even placing a thumb on the scales of democracy itself.

Many of these changes would build on decisions handed down long before President Donald Trump reshaped the Supreme Court. The court, for example, first allowed employers to force workers to sign away their right to sue the company — locking those workers into a private-arbitration system that favors corporate parties — in a 2001 case, Circuit City v. Adams. But the court’s current majority is likely to make it much harder for workers and consumers to overcome these tactics. In Epic Systems v. Lewis (2018), Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the court’s majority opinion favoring an employer that forced its employees to give up their right to sue.

Similarly, in the 2014 case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court held that businesses seeking a religious exemption from a law may have it — holding, for the first time, that such exemptions may be allowed even when they diminish the rights of others. That case permitted employers with religious objections to birth control to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees, even though a federal regulation required employer-provided health plans to cover contraception.

Before Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the Supreme Court, however, a majority of the justices were very reluctant to grant religious exemptions to state regulations seeking to limit the spread of Covid-19. Yet after she became a justice, the court’s new majority started granting such exemptions to churches that wanted to defy public health orders.

It’s plausible that the Republican Party did not campaign on its old legislative agenda in 2020 because it was busy rebranding itself. Under Mr. Trump, Republicans attracted more working-class voters, while Democrats made gains in relatively affluent suburbs. So Mr. Ryan’s plans to ransack programs like Medicaid aren’t likely to inspire the party’s emerging base.

And yet the court’s conservative majority is still pushing an agenda that benefits corporations and the wealthy at the expense of workers and consumers.

It’s easy to see why government-by-judiciary appeals to Republican politicians. There’s no constituency for forced arbitration outside of corporate boardrooms. But when the court hands down decisions like Circuit City or Epic Systems, those decisions often go unnoticed. Employers score a major policy victory over their workers, and voters don’t blame the Republican politicians who placed conservative justices on the court.

Judges can also hide many of their most consequential decisions behind legal language and doctrines. One of the most important legal developments in the last few years, for example, is that a majority of the court called for strict new limits on federal agencies’ power to regulate the workplace, shield consumers and protect the environment.

In Little Sisters v. Pennsylvania (2020), the court signaled that it’s likely to strike down the Department of Health and Human Services’s rules requiring insurers to cover many forms of medical care — including birth control, immunizations and preventive care for children. And in West Virginia v. E.P.A. (2016), the court shut down much of the E.P.A.’s efforts to fight climate change.

Yet to understand decisions like Little Sisters and West Virginia, a reader needs to master arcane concepts like the “nondelegation doctrine” or “Chevron deference” that baffle even many lawyers. The result is that the Republican Party’s traditional constituency — business conservatives — walk away with big wins, while voters have less access to health care and breathe dirtier air.

By legislating from the bench, Republicans dodge accountability for unpopular policies. Meanwhile, the real power is held by Republican judges who serve for life — and therefore do not need to worry about whether their decisions enjoy public support.

It’s a terrible recipe for democracy. Voters shouldn’t need to hire a lawyer to understand what their government is doing.

Google hired Timnit Gebru to be an outspoken critic of unethical AI. Then she was fired for it.

Gebru is one of the most high-profile Black women in her field and a powerful voice in the new field of ethical AI, which seeks to identify issues around bias, fairness, and responsibility.

Two months ago, Google promoted Timnit Gebru, co-lead of a group focused on ethical artificial intelligence, after she earned a high score on her annual employee appraisal. Gebru is one of the most high-profile Black women in her field and a powerful voice in the new field of ethical AI, which seeks to identify issues around bias, fairness, and responsibility.

In his peer review of Gebru, Jeff Dean, the head of Google Artificial Intelligence, left only one comment when asked what she could do to have a greater impact, according to documents viewed by The Washington Post: Ensure that her team helps make a promising new software tool for processing human language “consistent with our AI Principles.”

In an email thanking Dean for his review, Gebru let him know that her team was already working on a paper about the ethical risks around the same language models, which are essential to understanding the complexity of language in search queries. On Oct. 20, Dean wrote that he wanted to see a draft, adding, “definitely not my area of expertise, but would definitely learn from reading it.”

Six weeks later, Google fired Gebru while she was on vacation.

I can’t imagine anybody else who would be safer than me,” Gebru, 37, said. “I was super visible. I’m well known in the research community, but also the regulatory space. I have a lot of grass-roots support — and this is what happened.”

In an internal memo that he later posted online explaining Gebru’s departure, Dean told employees that the paper “didn’t meet our bar for publication” and “ignored too much relevant research” on recent positive improvements to the technology. Gebru’s superiors had insisted that she and the other Google co-authors either retract the paper or remove their names. Employees in Google Research, the department that houses the ethical AI team, say authors who make claims about the benefits of large language models have not received the same scrutiny during the approval process as those who highlight the shortcomings.

Her abrupt firing shows that Google is pushing back on the kind of scrutiny that it claims to welcome, according to interviews with Gebru, current Google employees, and emails and documents viewed by The Post.

It raises doubts about Silicon Valley’s ability to self-police, especially when it comes to advanced technology that is largely unregulated and being deployed in the real world despite demonstrable bias toward marginalized groups. Already, AI systems shape decision-making in law enforcement, employment opportunity and access to health care worldwide.

That made Gebru’s perspective essential in a field that is predominantly White, Asian and male. Women made up only 15 percent of the AI research staff at Facebook and 10 percent at Google, according to a 2018 report in Wired magazine. At Google, Black women make up 1.6 percent of the workforce.

Although Google publicly celebrated Gebru’s work identifying problems with AI, it disenfranchised the work internally by keeping it hierarchically distinct from other AI initiatives, not heeding the group’s advice, and not creating an incentive structure to put in practice the ethical findings, Gebru and other employees said.

Google declined to comment, but noted that in addition to the dozen or so staff members on Gebru’s team, 200 employees are focused on responsible AI.

Google has said that it did not fire Gebru, but accepted her “resignation,” citing her request to explain who at Google demanded that the paper be retracted, according to Dean’s memo. The company also blamed an email Gebru wrote to an employee resource group for women and allies at Google working in AI as inappropriate for a manager. The message warned the group that pushing for diversity was no use until Google leadership took accountability.

Rumman Chowdhury, a former global lead for responsible AI at Accenture and chief executive of Parity, a start-up that helps companies figure out how to audit algorithms, said there is a fundamental lack of respect within the industry for work on AI ethics compared with equivalent roles in other industries, such as model risk managers in quantitative hedge funds or threat analysts in cybersecurity.

“It’s being framed as the AI optimists and the people really building the stuff [versus] the rest of us negative Nellies, raining on their parade,” Chowdhury said. “You can’t help but notice, it’s like the boys will make the toys and then the girls will have to clean up.”

Google, which for decades evangelized an office culture that embraced employee dissent, has fired outspoken workers in recent years and shut down forums for exchange and questioning.

Nearly 3,000 Google employees and more than 4,000 academics, engineers and industry colleagues have signed a petition calling Gebru’s termination an act of retaliation by Google. Last week, nine Democratic lawmakers, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) and Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (N.Y.), sponsor of the Algorithmic Accountability Act, a bill that would require companies to audit and correct race and gender bias in its algorithms, sent a letter to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai asking the company to affirm its commitment to research freedom and diversity.

Like any good researcher, Gebru is comfortable in the gray areas. And she has been using her ouster as an opportunity to shed light on the black box of algorithmic accountability inside Google — annotating the company’s claims with contradictory data, drawing connections to larger systemic issues, and illuminating the way internal AI ethics efforts can break down without oversight or a change in incentives to corporate practices and power structures.

Big Tech dominates AI research around advancements in machine learning, image recognition, language translation — poaching talent from top universities, sponsoring conferences and publishing influential papers. In response to concerns about the way those technologies could be abused or compound bias, the industry ramped up funding and promotion of AI ethics initiatives, beginning around 2016.

Tech giants have made similar investments in shaping policy debate around antitrust and online privacy, as a way to ward off lawmakers. Pichai invoked Google’s AI principles in an interview in 2018 with The Post, arguing for self-regulation around AI.

Google created its Ethical AI group in 2018 as an outgrowth of an employee-led push to prioritize fairness in the company’s machine learning applications. Margaret Mitchell, Gebru’s co-lead, pitched the idea of a team of researchers investigating the long-term effects of AI and translating those findings into action to mitigate harm and risk.

The same year, Pichai released a broadly worded set of principles governing Google’s AI work after thousands of employees protested the company’s contract with the Pentagon to analyze surveillance imagery from drones. But Google, which requires privacy and security tests before any product launch, has not mandated an equivalent process for vetting AI ethics, employees say.

Gebru, whose family’s ethnic origins are in Eritrea, was born and raised in Ethiopia and came to Massachusetts as 16-year-old after receiving political asylum from the war between the two African countries. She began her career as an electrical engineer at Apple and received her PhD from the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, studying computer vision under renowned computer scientist Fei-Fei Li, a former Google executive and now co-director of Stanford’s Human-Centered AI Institute, which receives funding from Google.

Gebru did her postdoctoral research at Microsoft Research as part of a group focused on accountability and ethics in AI. There, she and Joy Buolamwini, then a masters student at MIT Media Lab, co-wrote a groundbreaking 2018 study that found that commercial facial recognition tools sold by companies such as IBM and Microsoft were 99 percent accurate at identifying White males, but only 35 percent effective with Black women.

In June, IBM, Microsoft and Amazon announced that they would stop selling the software to law enforcement, which Dean credited to Gebru’s work. She also co-founded Black in AI, a nonprofit organization that increased the number Black attendees at the largest annual AI conference.

Gebru said that in 2018, Google recruited her with the promise of total academic freedom. She was unconvinced, but the company was opening its first artificial intelligence lab on the African continent in Accra, the capital of Ghana, and she wanted to be involved. When she joined Google, Gebru said, she was the first Black female researcher in the company. (When she left, there were still only a handful of Black women working in research, out of hundreds.)

Gebru said she was also drawn to working with Mitchell. Both women prioritized foresight and building practical solutions to prevent AI risk, whereas the operating mind-set in tech is biased toward benefits and “rapid hindsight,” in response to harm, Mitchell said.

Gebru’s approach to ethical AI was shaped by her experiences. Hardware, for instance, came with datasheets that documented whether components were safe to use in certain situations. “When you look at this field as a whole, that doesn’t exist,” said Gebru, an electrical engineer. “It’s just super behind in terms of documentation and standards of safety.”

She also leaned on her industry experience when collaborating with other teams. Engineers live on a product cycle, consumed with putting out fires and fixing bugs. A vague requirement to “make things fair” would only cause more work and frustration, she thought. So she tried to build institutional structures and documentation tools for “when people want to do the right thing.”

Despite their expertise, the Ethical AI group fought to be taken seriously and included in Google’s other AI efforts, employees said.

Within the company, Gebru and her former colleagues said, there is little transparency or accountability regarding how decisions around AI ethics or diversity initiatives get made. Work on AI principles, for instance, falls under Kent Walker, the senior vice president of global affairs, whose vast purview includes lobbying, public policy and legal work. Walker also runs an internal ethics board of top executives, including Dean, called the Advanced Technology Review Council, which is responsible for yes or no decisions when issues escalate, Gebru said. The Ethical AI team had to fight to be consulted on Walker’s initiatives, she said.

“Here’s the guy tasked with covering Google’s a–, lobbying and also … working on AI principles,” Gebru said. “Shouldn’t you have a different entity that pushes back a little bit internally — some sort of push and pull?” What’s more, members of Walker’s council are predominantly vice presidents or higher, constricting diversity, Gebru said.

In her conversations with product teams, such as a group working on fairness in Machine Learning Infrastructure, Gebru said she kept getting questions about what tools and features they could build to protect against the ethical risks involved with large language models. Google had credited it with the biggest breakthrough in improving search results in the past five years. The models can process words in relation to the other words that come before and after them, which is useful for understanding the intent behind conversational search queries.

But despite the increasing use of these models, there was limited research investigating groups that might be negatively impacted. Gebru says she wanted to help develop those safeguards, one of the reasons she agreed to collaborate with the research paper proposed by Emily M. Bender, a linguist at the University of Washington.

Mitchell, who developed the idea of model cards, like nutrition labels for machine learning models, described the paper as “due diligence.” Her model card idea is being adopted more widely across the industry, and engineers needed to know how to fill out the section on harm.

Gebru said her biggest contribution to both her team and the paper has been identifying researchers who study directly-affected communities.

That diversity was reflected in the authors of the paper, including Mark Diaz, a Black and Latino Google researcher whose previous work looked at how platforms leave out the elderly, who talk about ageism in blog posts, but don’t share as much on sites such as Twitter. For the paper, he identified the possibility that large data sets from the Internet, particularly if they are from a single moment in time, will not reflect cultural shifts from social movements, such as the #MeToo movement or Black Lives Matter, which seek to shift power through changes in language.

The paper identified four overarching categories of harm, according to a recent draft viewed by The Post. It delved into the environmental effect of the computing power, the inscrutability of massive data sets used to train these models, the opportunity costs of the “hype” around claims that these models can understand language, as opposed to identifying patterns, and the danger that the real-sounding text generated by such models could be used to spread misinformation.

Because Google depends on large language models, Gebru and Mitchell expected that the company might push back against certain sections or attempt to water down their findings. So they looped in PR & Policy representatives in mid-September, with plenty of time before the deadline for changes at the end of January 2021.

Before making a pre-publication draft available online, Gebru first wanted to vet the paper with a variety of experts, including those who have built large language models. She asked for feedback from two top people at OpenAI, an AI research lab co-founded by Elon Musk, in addition to her manager at Google, and about 30 others. They suggested additions or revisions, Gebru said. “I really wanted to send it to people who would disagree with our view and be defensive,” Gebru said.

Given all their upfront effort, Gebru was baffled when she received a notification for a meeting with Google Research Vice President Megan Kacholia at 4.30 p.m. on the Thursday before Thanksgiving.

At the meeting, Kacholia informed Gebru and her co-authors that Google wanted the paper retracted.

On Thanksgiving, a week after the meeting, Gebru composed a six-page email to Kacholia and Dean outlining how disrespectful and oddly secretive the process had been.

Specific individuals should not be empowered to unilaterally shut down work in such a disrespectful manner,” she wrote, adding that researchers from underrepresented groups were mistreated.

Mitchell, who is White, said she shared Gebru’s concerns but did not receive the same treatment from the company. “Google is very hierarchical, and it’s been a battle to have any sort of recognition,” she said. “We tried to explain that Timnit, and to a lesser extent me, are respected voices publicly, but we could not communicate upwards.”

How can you still ask why there aren’t Black women in this industry?” Gebru said.

Gebru said she found out this week that the paper was accepted to the Conference on Fairness, Accountability and Transparency, as part of its anonymous review process. “It’s sad, the scientific community respects us a lot more than anybody inside Google,” she said.

Timnit Gebru’s Exit From Google Exposes a Crisis in AI

This year has held many things, among them bold claims of artificial intelligence breakthroughs. Industry commentators speculated that the language-generation model GPT-3 may have achieved “artificial general intelligence,” while others lauded Alphabet subsidiary DeepMind’s protein-folding algorithm—Alphafold—and its capacity to “transform biology.” While the basis of such claims is thinner than the effusive headlines, this hasn’t done much to dampen enthusiasm across the industry, whose profits and prestige are dependent on AI’s proliferation.

It was against this backdrop that Google fired Timnit Gebru, our dear friend and colleague, and a leader in the field of artificial intelligence. She is also one of the few Black women in AI research and an unflinching advocate for bringing more BIPOC, women, and non-Western people into the field. By any measure, she excelled at the job Google hired her to perform, including demonstrating racial and gender disparities in facial-analysis technologies and developing reporting guidelines for data sets and AI models. Ironically, this and her vocal advocacy for those underrepresented in AI research are also the reasons, she says, the company fired her. According to Gebru, after demanding that she and her colleagues withdraw a research paper critical of (profitable) large-scale AI systems, Google Research told her team that it had accepted her resignation, despite the fact that she hadn’t resigned. (Google declined to comment for this story.)

Google’s appalling treatment of Gebru exposes a dual crisis in AI research. The field is dominated by an elite, primarily white male workforce, and it is controlled and funded primarily by large industry players—Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, and yes, Google. With Gebru’s firing, the civility politics that yoked the young effort to construct the necessary guardrails around AI have been torn apart, bringing questions about the racial homogeneity of the AI workforce and the inefficacy of corporate diversity programs to the center of the discourse. But this situation has also made clear that—however sincere a company like Google’s promises may seem—corporate-funded research can never be divorced from the realities of power, and the flows of revenue and capital.

This should concern us all. With the proliferation of AI into domains such as health carecriminal justice, and education, researchers and advocates are raising urgent concerns. These systems make determinations that directly shape lives, at the same time that they are embedded in organizations structured to reinforce histories of racial discrimination. AI systems also concentrate power in the hands of those designing and using them, while obscuring responsibility (and liability) behind the veneer of complex computation. The risks are profound, and the incentives are decidedly perverse.

The current crisis exposes the structural barriers limiting our ability to build effective protections around AI systems. This is especially important because the populations subject to harm and bias from AI’s predictions and determinations are primarily BIPOC people, women, religious and gender minorities, and the poor—those who’ve borne the brunt of structural discrimination. Here we have a clear racialized divide between those benefiting—the corporations and the primarily white male researchers and developers—and those most likely to be harmed.

Take facial-recognition technologies, for instance, which have been shown to “recognize” darker skinned people less frequently than those with lighter skin. This alone is alarming. But these racialized “errors” aren’t the only problems with facial recognition. Tawana Petty, director of organizing at Data for Black Lives, points out that these systems are disproportionately deployed in predominantly Black neighborhoods and cities, while cities that have had success in banning and pushing back against facial recognition’s use are predominately white.

Without independent, critical research that centers the perspectives and experiences of those who bear the harms of these technologies, our ability to understand and contest the overhyped claims made by industry is significantly hampered. Google’s treatment of Gebru makes increasingly clear where the company’s priorities seem to lie when critical work pushes back on its business incentives. This makes it almost impossible to ensure that AI systems are accountable to the people most vulnerable to their damage.

Checks on the industry are further compromised by the close ties between tech companies and ostensibly independent academic institutions. Researchers from corporations and academia publish papers together and rub elbows at the same conferences, with some researchers even holding concurrent positions at tech companies and universities. This blurs the boundary between academic and corporate research and obscures the incentives underwriting such work. It also means that the two groups look awfully similar—AI research in academia suffers from the same pernicious racial and gender homogeneity issues as its corporate counterparts. Moreover, the top computer science departments accept copious amounts of Big Tech research funding. We have only to look to Big Tobacco and Big Oil for troubling templates that expose just how much influence over the public understanding of complex scientific issues large companies can exert when knowledge creation is left in their hands.

Gebru’s firing suggests this dynamic is at work once again. Powerful companies like Google have the ability to co-opt, minimize, or silence criticisms of their own large-scale AI systems—systems that are at the core of their profit motives. Indeed, according to a recent Reuters report, Google leadership went as far as to instruct researchers to “strike a positive tone” in work that examined technologies and issues sensitive to Google’s bottom line. Gebru’s firing also highlights the danger the rest of the public faces if we allow an elite, homogenous research cohort, made up of people who are unlikely to experience the negative effects of AI, to drive and shape the research on it from within corporate environments. The handful of people who are benefiting from AI’s proliferation are shaping the academic and public understanding of these systems, while those most likely to be harmed are shut out of knowledge creation and influence. This inequity follows predictable racial, gender, and class lines.

As the dust begins to settle in the wake of Gebru’s firing, one question resounds: What do we do to contest these incentives, and to continue critical work on AI in solidarity with the people most at risk of harm? To that question, we have a few, preliminary answers.

First and foremost, tech workers need a union. Organized workers are a key lever for change and accountability, and one of the few forces that has been shown capable of pushing back against large firms. This is especially true in tech, given that many workers have sought-after expertise and are not easily replaceable, giving them significant labor power. Such organizations can act as a check on retaliation and discrimination, and can be a force pushing back against morally reprehensible uses of tech. Just look at Amazon workers’ fight against climate change or Google employees’ resistance to military uses of AI, which changed company policies and demonstrated the power of self-organized tech workers. To be effective here, such an organization must be grounded in anti-racism and cross-class solidarity, taking a broad view of who counts as a tech worker, and working to prioritize the protection and elevation of BIPOC tech workers across the board. It should also use its collective muscle to push back on tech that hurts historically marginalized people beyond Big Tech’s boundaries, and to align with external advocates and organizers to ensure this.

We also need protections and funding for critical research outside of the corporate environment that’s free of corporate influence. Not every company has a Timnit Gebru prepared to push back against reported research censorship. Researchers outside of corporate environments must be guaranteed greater access to technologies currently hidden behind claims of corporate secrecy, such as access to training data sets, and policies and procedures related to data annotation and content moderation. Such spaces for protected, critical research should also prioritize supporting BIPOC, women, and other historically excluded researchers and perspectives, recognizing that racial and gender homogeneity in the field contribute to AI’s harms. This endeavor would need significant funding, which could be achieved through a tax levied on these companies.

Finally, the AI field desperately needs regulation. Local, state, and federal governments must step in and pass legislation that protects privacy and ensures meaningful consent around data collection and the use of AI; increases protections for workers, including whistle-blower protections and measures to better protect BIPOC workers and others subject to discrimination; and ensures that those most vulnerable to the risks of AI systems can contest—and refuse—their use.

This crisis makes clear that the current AI research ecosystem—constrained as it is by corporate influence and dominated by a privileged set of researchers—is not capable of asking and answering the questions most important to those who bear the harms of AI systems. Public-minded research and knowledge creation isn’t just important for its own sake, it provides essential information for those developing robust strategies for the democratic oversight and governance of AI, and for social movements that can push back on harmful tech and those who wield it. Supporting and protecting organized tech workers, expanding the field that examines AI, and nurturing well-resourced and inclusive research environments outside the shadow of corporate influence are essential steps in providing the space to address these urgent concerns.


Global Coup d’État: Mapping the Corporate Takeover of Global Governance

00:03
[Music]
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hello and welcome i’m lynn fries
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producer of global political economy
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or gbe news docs today i’m joined by
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nick
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buxton he’s going to be giving us some
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big picture context on the great
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reset a world economic forum initiative
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to reset the world
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system of global governance a worldwide
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movement crossing not only borders but
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all walks of life
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from peasant farmers to techies is
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fighting against this initiative on the
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grounds that it represents a major
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threat
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to democracy key voices from the health
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food education indigenous people and
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high
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tech movements explained why in the
00:48
great
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takeover how we fight the davos capture
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of global governance a recent webinar
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hosted by the transnational
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institute today’s guest nick buxton
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is a publications editor and future labs
01:02
coordinator
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at the transnational institute he’s the
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founder
01:06
and chief editor of tni’s flagship
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state of power report welcome nick
01:13
thank you very much liam nick the
01:16
transnational
01:17
institute was was co-organizer of the
01:20
great takeover webinar so what is it
01:24
that you’re
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mobilizing against uh in opposing this
01:28
great
01:28
reset initiative what we’re really
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concerned about is
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this initiative by the world economic
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forum
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actually looks to entrench the power of
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those most responsible for the crises
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we’re facing
01:40
um and in in many ways it’s a trick it’s
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a sleight of hand
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uh to make sure that things continue as
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they are
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to continue the same and that will
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create more of these crises more of
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these pandemics will
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deepen the climate crisis which will
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deepen inequality
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and it’s not a great reset at all it’s a
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great corporate takeover
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and that’s what we were trying to draw
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attention to what we’ve been finding
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in in recent years is that um really
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there is
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something i would call it a kind of a
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global
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silent coup d’etat going on in terms of
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global governance
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most people don’t see it and people are
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familiar have become familiar with the
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way that corporations
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have far more influence and are being
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integrated into policy-making and
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national level
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they see that more more in front of them
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people see their services being
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privatized
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and they see the influence of the oil
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companies or the banking sector that has
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stopped
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actions such as regulations of banks or
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are dealing with the climate crisis what
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people don’t realize is at a global
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level
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there has been something much more
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silent going on which is that their
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governance which used to be by nations
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is now increasingly be done by
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unaccountable bodies
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dominated by corporations and part of
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the problem is that that has been
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happening in lots of different
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sectors but people haven’t been
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connecting the dots
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so what we’ve been trying to do in the
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last year is to talk with
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people in the health movement for
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example people involved in
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public education people involved
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in food sector to say what what is
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happening in your sector and what we
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found is that in each of these sectors
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global decisions were used to be
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discussed by bodies such as the wh
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o or such as the food and agriculture
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organization
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were increasingly done by these these
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unaccountable bodies
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and just to give an example uh we have
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now the global pandemic and one of the
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key bodies that is now making the
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decision
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is is a facility called kovacs you’d
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have thought
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global health should be run by the world
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health organization it’s accountable to
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the united nations
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it has a system of accountability well
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what’s actually happening is that world
03:57
health organization
03:58
is just one of a few partners that
04:01
really
04:02
has been controlled by corporations and
04:04
corporate interests
04:05
in this case is gavi and sepi and they
04:08
are both bodies which which don’t have a
04:11
system of accountability
04:13
where it’s not clear who chose them who
04:15
they’re accountable to
04:17
or how they can be held to account and
04:20
what we do see is that there’s a lot of
04:22
corporate influence in each of these
04:23
bodies
04:24
what this webinar was about was bringing
04:26
all these sectors together
04:28
who are seeing this silent coup d’etat
04:30
going on
04:31
in their own sector to map it out and so
04:34
one of the things that you’ll
04:35
have seen in the in the webinar is is
04:37
this mapping of the different sectors
04:40
who are um who are seeing this going on
04:43
and the
04:43
idea is just to give a global picture
04:45
that this is something happening we’ve
04:47
had
04:48
we’ve had more than a hundred of these
04:50
um of these mult they’re called
04:52
multi-stakeholder bodies
04:54
uh coming to coming to the fore in the
04:57
last 20 years
04:58
um and and there’s been very little kind
05:00
of taking note of that and taking stock
05:02
of what’s emerging
05:04
and what’s emerging is this silent
05:06
global coup d’etat
05:08
so what you find then in the big picture
05:11
that you’re getting
05:12
is that a global coup d’etat has been
05:15
silently emerging and at the heart of it
05:18
is a move
05:19
towards multi-stakeholder model of
05:21
global governance and
05:23
that this is the model that’s the path
05:25
and mechanism
05:27
of a corporate hijack of global and
05:29
national governance
05:30
structures and the world economic forum
05:32
agenda fits into all this is the wef of
05:35
course is
05:36
one of the world’s most powerful
05:38
multi-stakeholder institutions
05:40
so nick in explaining what all this
05:42
means let’s start with some of your
05:44
thoughts
05:45
on the history of how we got here
05:49
i think what we had was in the 90s was
05:52
the kind of height of neoliberalism we
05:53
had
05:54
we had um the increasing role of
05:56
corporations as
05:58
and the deregulation of the state and it
06:01
really started to come through in 2000
06:02
with the global compact
06:04
and where the un invited in uh you know
06:07
corporations and the idea was that we’re
06:09
going to need to involve corporations
06:11
one because
06:12
we will need private finance became the
06:15
kind of motto
06:16
the mantra so we need to involve
06:18
corporations they can be part of the
06:20
solution so it was
06:21
partly financed it was partly the
06:22
withdrawal of state
06:24
from kind of global cooperation um
06:27
and and that started to invite
06:30
corporations into the global government
06:32
where corporations were increasingly um
06:34
being invited into these kind of bodies
06:37
that dovetailed with this whole movement
06:39
um called
06:40
the corporate social responsibility that
06:42
sid corporations
06:44
weren’t just profit-making vehicles they
06:46
could be socially responsible
06:48
actors um and and so increasingly
06:51
corporations were pitching themselves as
06:53
as not just um corporate entities but as
06:57
global citizens
06:59
um and and one of the key vehicles for
07:02
that of course is the world economic
07:04
forum which has
07:05
really been articulating
07:08
through klaus schwab and through their
07:10
whole and through their whole
07:11
work uh this idea that’s that
07:14
corporations
07:16
should firstly be social responsible and
07:18
secondly as part of that they should be
07:20
treated
07:21
as social entities and should be
07:24
integrated into governance and decision
07:26
making
07:27
that we needed to move from what was
07:29
considered an
07:30
antiquated state-led
07:33
multilateral approach to a much more
07:36
agile governance system
07:38
and this is again the kind of mantra of
07:39
coming in of the private sector being
07:42
efficient
07:43
that the private sector if you involve
07:44
them in decision making
07:46
you would get more faster decisions you
07:48
get agile decisions you’d get better
07:50
decisions
07:51
and so this all really came together um
07:53
and and
07:54
in in some ways it’s even being
07:56
consolidated even further
07:58
the irony is that as as you’ve had
08:00
nationalist governments come to power
08:03
that the kind of trump america firsts of
08:06
the world or modi
08:07
india first they articulate a
08:10
nationalist agenda but they haven’t
08:12
actually questioned the role of
08:14
corporations in any way whatsoever
08:16
and as as they’ve retreated from
08:18
multilateral forums like the united
08:20
nations
08:21
they’ve left a vacuum that corporations
08:23
have been able to fill
08:24
corporations now say we can be the
08:27
global actors we can be the responsible
08:29
actors
08:30
we’re the ones who consort to tackle the
08:32
big crisis we face such as inequality
08:35
such as climate change
08:37
um such as the pandemic and so so really
08:40
this
08:40
this we’ve had this convergence of
08:42
forces coming together
08:44
where as states have retreated um
08:47
corporations have filled the vacuum
08:49
you mentioned earlier that the world
08:50
economic forum was one of the key
08:52
vehicles for these
08:53
ideas and the wef also went big in
08:57
filling that vacuum that you’re talking
09:00
about
09:00
tni reported the wef global redesign
09:04
initiative
09:05
stretching back to 2009 created
09:08
something like
09:09
40 global agenda councils and industry
09:12
sector bodies so in the sphere of global
09:15
governance the wef
09:17
created space for corporate actors
09:19
across the whole spectrum
09:21
of governance issues from cyber security
09:23
to climate change you name it
09:25
so yeah the global redesign initiative
09:27
was one of the first initiatives that
09:29
the world economic forum launched
09:31
in the wake of the financial crisis um
09:35
and their idea was that we needed to
09:37
replace what was
09:39
uh an inefficient um multilateral system
09:42
that was not able to solve problems
09:45
with a new form of things so they were
09:46
saying instead of a multilateral where
09:48
nations make decisions in global
09:50
cooperation
09:51
we needed a multi-stakeholder approach
09:54
which would bring together
09:55
all the interested parties in small
09:58
groups
09:59
to make decisions and the global
10:01
redesign initiative was really a model
10:03
of that they were trying
10:04
to say okay how do we resolve um
10:07
issues such as the governance of the
10:09
digital economy
10:11
and their answer to it is we bring the
10:13
big tech companies together we bring the
10:15
governments together and we bring a few
10:17
civil society players
10:19
and we’ll work out a system that makes
10:21
that makes sense
10:23
um and and so you had a similar thing
10:26
going on in all these other redesigned
10:28
councils really their models
10:29
for how they think governments should be
10:31
done and some of them have not just
10:33
become models they’ve actually become
10:34
the real thing
10:36
so many of the multi-stakeholder
10:37
initiatives we’ve seen emerge today
10:40
have emerged out of some of these
10:42
councils
10:43
um the coalition for epidemic
10:45
preparedness one of the key ones leading
10:48
kovacs right now the response to the
10:49
pandemic was launched at the world
10:51
economic forum so the world economic
10:53
forum is now becoming a launch pad for
10:55
many of these
10:56
multi-stakeholder bodies we should also
10:59
note the world economic forum is a
11:01
very well funded launch pad as
11:04
a powerpoint from the great takeover
11:06
webinar put it
11:08
corporations do not pay tax but donate
11:11
to multi-stakeholder institutions and
11:13
the wef of course
11:15
is funded by powerful corporations and
11:18
business leaders
11:19
the powerpoint also noted the bill and
11:21
melinda gates foundation is one of the
11:23
main funders of multi-stakeholder
11:26
institutions
11:27
in contrast multilateral institutions
11:30
are being
11:31
defunded on the back of falling
11:33
corporate tax revenues
11:35
for nation states given it depends on
11:39
government donors the
11:41
u.n regular budget that’s the backbone
11:43
of funding for the one country one vote
11:45
multilateral
11:46
processes of intergovernmental
11:49
cooperation and decision making
11:51
has taken a big hit perhaps you could
11:54
comment on some big picture implications
11:57
on this kind of
11:58
changing dynamic that’s going on between
12:01
corporate actors and nation states
12:03
yeah yeah i think i think what we’re
12:06
seeing is that the
12:07
um as gradually the corporations have
12:09
become more powerful
12:11
they they have weakened the capacity of
12:14
the state
12:15
so they have reduced the tax basis you
12:18
know most corporations have seen
12:20
corporate tax rates drop
12:21
forward dramatically and even more
12:23
trillions are now siphoned away in tax
12:26
havens
12:26
so the the entire corporate tax base
12:28
which used to play a much bigger role in
12:30
state funding has reduced um at the same
12:34
time
12:35
they they their influence over policies
12:38
which benefit corporations
12:40
has increased so they’re reducing the
12:42
regulations that were on them they’re
12:43
reducing all the costs that used to be
12:45
opposed
12:46
on the things so you’ve had a weakening
12:48
of the state and the strengthening of
12:49
corporations
12:51
and what’s happened at a global
12:52
governance level is that they have also
12:54
moved
12:55
not just from influencing dramatically
12:58
through their power
12:59
their economic power political decision
13:01
making
13:02
but in an easy global governance thing
13:04
it’s the next step forward because
13:05
they’re not just saying
13:06
that we want to be considered and we
13:09
will lobby to have our position heard
13:11
they’re saying
13:11
we want to actually be part of the
13:13
decision-making bodies themselves
13:16
um and the classic again is if we look
13:18
at the pandemic with kovacs
13:21
is that um what i looked actually at
13:24
just at the board of
13:25
gavi the the global alliance of vaccines
13:28
um if you look at the body it’s the
13:31
board is dominated firstly
13:33
by big pharmaceutical companies um
13:36
secondly you have some nations and some
13:39
and
13:40
civil society representatives but you
13:42
have far more
13:43
interest in the almost half a large
13:45
number of the board
13:46
are financiers they come from the
13:48
finance sector they come from big banks
13:51
um so they’re they’re i don’t know what
13:53
they have to do with public health
13:55
um and wh show is just one of the
13:58
players so it’s it’s suddenly over
14:00
crowded by others who have no um
14:03
public health representation they’ve
14:06
been dominated by finance and
14:08
pharmaceutical companies
14:09
starting to really shape and guide um
14:12
decision-making
14:13
and and on the finance side of course
14:15
bill gates foundation
14:17
has is now the big player in many of
14:19
these things and it’s
14:21
it’s it’s not just donating it’s also
14:23
involved now in shaping policy
14:25
so those who give money um in a
14:28
philanthropic way
14:30
no matter how they earn that money or no
14:32
matter what their
14:33
remit is and who they’re accountable to
14:35
they’re only accountable to the
14:37
to to bill and melinda gates um
14:40
ultimately are now part of the decision
14:42
making process as well
14:44
and this has become so normalized that
14:46
there seems to be very little
14:47
questioning of it
14:48
and we will bring together these players
14:50
now who chose them
14:53
who who chose this body to come together
14:55
who’s it accountable to
14:56
there was a british parliamentarian
14:58
called tony ben he says if you want to
understand democracy you need to ask
five questions
  1. what what power do you have
  2. who did you get it from
  3. whose interest do you serve
  4. to whom are you accountable and
  5. how can we get rid of you
15:14
if you look at a body that such as
15:16
kovacs um
15:17
who who where did they get the power
15:19
from they just self-convened
15:21
they just brought together a group of
15:23
powerful actors
15:24
they will make a token effort to involve
15:27
one or two civil society representatives
15:29
but the power very much lies with with
15:32
the corporations
15:33
and and with the financiers those who
15:36
are financing it
15:38
and it’s not accountable they chose
15:40
their body
15:41
uh if the interests are very clear who
15:43
it serves it clear
15:44
it serves the pharmaceutical companies
15:46
they will of course do certain things
15:49
um within the remit um but ultimately
15:52
they will not undermine their best
15:53
business
15:54
model even if that business model is
15:55
getting in the way of an effective
15:57
response to the
15:58
pandemic we can’t get rid of them
16:01
because we never chose them in the first
16:02
place
16:03
so it fails really the very fundamental
16:05
principles of democracy
16:07
and yet it’s now been normalized that
16:09
this is the way that global governance
16:11
should happen
16:12
nick comment briefly on an agreement
16:14
that was quite a milestone
16:16
in this process of normalization of
16:19
multi-stakeholderism
16:20
as the way global governance should
16:22
happen i’m thinking
16:23
of the uh strategic partnership
16:26
agreement signed
16:27
by the office of the un secretary
16:29
general with the world economic forum in
16:32
2019.
16:33
so what’s some background in your
16:35
response to that
16:37
uh un-w-e-f agreement
16:41
well the world economic forum has been
16:43
um advocating this mod
16:45
model of multi-stakeholder capitalism to
16:47
replace multilateralism for a long time
16:50
and and they have been um gradually
16:54
i would say kind of setting up parallel
16:56
bodies these multi-stakeholder bodies to
16:58
make decisions
17:00
um on major issues of global governance
17:02
whether it’s the digital economy or
17:04
whether it’s
17:04
how to respond to a a pandemic
17:08
um and and so they’ve they’ve been
17:10
advancing this model
17:11
um alongside the un for some time but
17:14
what what was really concerning to us is
17:16
that they’re starting
17:18
to increasingly um
17:22
engage with the un and start to impose
17:25
this and start to push this model within
17:27
the united nations
17:29
and the classic example was this
17:31
strategic partnership which was signed
17:33
in
17:33
i believe june of 2019
17:37
i don’t think it went even in front of
17:38
the general assembly so it wasn’t
17:40
discussed amongst the members it was a
17:42
decision
17:43
by the secretariat of the un without any
17:46
at least any
17:46
formal systems of accountability to sign
17:49
a deal with the world economic forum
17:51
that would essentially in start to
17:53
involve you
17:55
world economic forum staff within the
17:58
departments of the un
17:59
they would become so-called kind of
18:01
whisper advisors that
18:02
the world economic forum would start to
18:05
have its staff mingling with un staff
18:07
and starting to make decisions
18:09
um and there was no system of
18:10
accountability there was no system of
18:12
of um of consulting more widely
18:16
and and we know the world economic forum
18:19
is is this business forum if you look at
18:21
its board it’s completely controlled
18:23
uh by by some of the most wealthy and
18:26
powerful corporations and many of those
18:27
corporations
18:29
are responsible for many of the crises
18:31
we face and yet here they were being
18:32
open
18:33
open armed and welcomed into the united
18:37
nations to play a very significant role
18:38
and
18:39
and we we protested that we said that
18:42
this is not
18:43
this is not a way to solve global
18:45
problems to involve those who have
18:47
actually responsible for the crisis to
18:48
resolve it
18:50
will only lead to solutions that are
18:51
either ineffective or actually deepen
18:53
the crises we face
18:55
um we understand why the u.n is doing it
18:57
it’s because of this
18:58
lack of national support is because of
19:00
the defunding
19:02
they’re looking to kind of survive as an
19:03
organization and they’re going to the
19:05
most powerful players in the world which
19:07
are the corporations
19:08
but what they’re going to end up doing
19:09
is as ultimately undermined in the
19:12
united nations it will actually
19:14
damage the united nations because it
19:15
will remove all the democratic
19:17
legitimacy that it currently has
19:20
we desperately need global collaboration
19:23
and cooperation
19:24
but it must be based on public and
19:26
democratic systems of governance
19:29
not um unaccountable secretive forms of
19:32
governance dominated by corporations
19:35
so that’s pretty clear you oppose
19:38
multi-stakeholderism because it’s an
19:40
unaccountable
19:41
secretive form of governance dominated
19:44
by corporations
19:45
so as well as being unaccountable the
19:49
multi-stakeholder model is a voluntary
19:52
and a market-based approach to problem
19:55
solving
19:56
comment on how that also uh fits into
19:59
why you oppose the multi-stakeholderism
20:03
yeah the the solutions they’re looking
20:05
for are volunteeristic
20:07
where you can come in or out and they’re
20:09
market-based
20:10
so they will never actually challenge
20:12
the business model as it is ultimately
20:14
what happens is that they make decisions
20:16
which are not binding and actually force
20:19
actors like corporations to do certain
20:21
things
20:22
they’re based entirely on this voluntary
20:23
meth model um but it’s a kind of to take
20:26
it or leave it governance where you can
20:28
do things that you
20:29
that look good for your for your annual
20:31
report
20:32
but don’t actually change the way you
20:36
actually operate
20:37
um and so ultimately they won’t resolve
20:39
the crisis that we’re facing
20:41
so it’s not just that they’re
20:42
unaccountable but they’re actually
20:44
ultimately very ineffective so if we
20:45
look at the climate crisis for example
20:47
we’ll say
20:48
the only way that we can deal with the
20:50
climate crisis is market solutions
20:52
even if we know that really the scale of
20:55
the climate crisis the urgency
20:57
and the timing requires us to take much
20:59
more drastic solutions which will be
21:01
state-led which will require
21:02
corporations to reduce emissions
21:04
and that will start to transform
21:06
economies um
21:08
that will have to be taken these kind of
21:10
public decisions
21:12
we’re ignoring that entirely for a model
21:14
which is based on of market
21:15
incentives which really do nothing to
21:18
change the business model that has
21:19
created the climate crisis
21:21
okay so that goes a long way in
21:22
explaining why you say the world
21:24
economic forum great
21:25
reset initiative is no reset at all
21:29
nick briefly touch on some of your
21:31
further observations
21:33
like why is the multi-stakeholder model
21:36
is based on
21:37
market solutions when push comes to
21:41
shove
21:42
the profit motive will always win out
21:45
under this
21:45
approach to global governance yeah no
21:48
absolutely i mean corporations will
21:50
accept market solutions which give them
21:52
the power
21:53
to uh to really control the pace of
21:56
change
21:56
and so you’ll see it they’re very happy
21:58
to to produce these corporate social
22:00
responsibility reports but
22:02
they will fight tooth and nail for any
22:04
regulation which actually enforces
22:06
social environmental goals and so and
22:09
they will
22:10
fight on an international level to have
22:13
trade rules to actually
22:14
prevent states imposing social
22:17
environmental goals
22:19
so so there’s very much an approach
22:21
where they’re willing to have
22:22
been washed they’re willing to have the
22:24
propaganda around social environmental
22:26
goals but they will absolutely oppose
22:29
and in any rules would actually
22:32
control their their environmental and
22:34
social impacts
22:36
they do not want anything which actually
22:38
requires regulation
22:40
and and impacts which will actually
22:42
force them to do certain changes they
22:44
want their changes to be very much ones
22:46
that they
22:47
control and which they shape and
22:48
ultimately that they can ditch
22:51
at the moment it starts to challenge the
22:53
profits that they want to make
22:55
let’s turn now to the coalition in
22:58
in fighting for a democratic reset
23:01
on uh global governance so a future
23:04
where decision making over the
23:06
governance of global commons like
23:08
for example food water health and the
23:11
internet
23:12
is is done in the public interest and i
23:15
see this
23:16
coalition put together resources and
23:18
it’s posted on your website
23:19
you’re in the nexus of all this so this
23:21
time around in the wake
23:23
of the covet pandemic what’s your read
23:27
on the situation
23:28
of peoples versus corporate power
23:31
this global coup d’etat that’s been
23:34
going on silently in so many different
23:36
sectors has been advancing because there
23:39
hasn’t been enough information and
23:41
knowledge about it
23:42
and also people haven’t been connecting
23:44
the dots to see this is happening in
23:45
every sector
23:47
so what’s really important this year in
23:49
as
23:50
as and i think it’s particularly
23:52
important in the wake of the pandemic is
23:54
that
23:54
so many movements are coming together um
23:57
people’s health movement
23:59
has come together a lot of groups
24:01
involved in food sovereignty uh the
24:04
trade union sector
24:05
coming together they’re all saying uh we
24:08
do this
24:08
this is not in our name um and of course
24:11
these are all groups that you’ll never
24:12
see
24:13
in a in a multi-stakeholder initiative
24:16
whenever they do have civil society
24:18
partners they don’t involve people on
24:19
the front lines you won’t find one
24:23
health union worker in in the kovacs
24:27
initiative you won’t have public health
24:29
people really represented
24:31
represented so these are movements now
24:33
starting to come together to say that we
24:35
don’t want this and
24:36
one of the things we did was launch this
24:38
letter it’s an open letter and it’s
24:40
really saying that
24:41
it’s really alerting people to what’s
24:43
going on it’s saying that we’re facing
24:46
this
24:46
in so many different sectors uh the un
24:49
is is opening the door the un secretary
24:52
i should say is opening the door wide
24:54
open
24:55
uh to the world economic forum which is
24:57
the key body advancing
24:58
multi-stakeholders
25:01
and and it’s changing governance as we
25:03
know it it’s
25:04
and it has no systems of accountability
25:06
or justice embedded in it
25:08
and these movements are now coming
25:09
together to say we we’re
25:11
we’re opposing this we’re uniting our
25:13
forces
25:14
and we’re going to fight back against
25:16
this we know
25:18
more than ever before with the pandemic
25:20
that nationalist
25:21
solutions to the global crisis will not
25:25
work we need global cooperation we need
25:27
global collaboration
25:29
but if we hand over all that decision
25:31
making to the pharmaceutical companies
25:34
for example we won’t be dealing with the
25:36
real issues
25:38
such as as trade protection and trips
25:42
and i um patents and everything that
25:45
that really benefit pharmaceutical
25:47
companies and don’t advance public
25:48
health because they
25:49
are in control of the process they won’t
25:51
allow things that affect their profits
25:54
so we need global solutions but they
25:55
cannot be led by the corporations
25:58
which are actually worsening deepening
25:59
the crisis we face
26:02
so as we close i just wanted to play a
26:04
clip of a comment
26:06
you made back in 2015 about a book you
26:09
had co-edited
26:11
titled the secure and was dispossessed i
26:14
found a review of the book
26:15
so relevant to our chat today i just
26:17
want to cite a few lines
26:19
it said among the books that attempt to
26:21
model
26:22
the coming century this one stands out
26:25
for its sense of plausibility
26:27
and danger it examines several current
26:30
trends in our responses
26:32
to climate change which if combined
26:34
would result in a kind of oligarchic
26:37
police state dedicated to extending
26:40
capitalist hegemony this will not work
26:43
and yet powerful forces are advocating
26:46
for it rather than imagining and working
26:48
for
26:49
a more just resilient and democratic way
26:52
forward
26:53
all the processes analyzed here are
26:55
already
26:56
happening now making this book
26:59
a crucial contribution to our cognitive
27:02
mapping
27:03
in our ability to form a better plan
27:06
so nick in wrapping up briefly comment
27:10
on that book
27:11
and then uh play the clip yeah back in
27:14
2011 we noticed a trend going on in
27:17
terms of climate change where there was
27:19
was
27:20
was a lack of willingness to really
27:22
tackle the climate crisis on the scale
27:24
it needs and with the
27:25
with the with the tools and instruments
27:28
that it needs
27:29
but there was increasingly uh plans by
27:32
both
27:33
the military and corporations for
27:35
dealing with the impacts of climate
27:37
change
27:38
um and they very much looked at it in
27:41
terms of how do we
27:43
secure the wealth of those and secure
27:45
those who already have power and wealth
27:48
um and and and what that would mean so
27:51
in the face of climate crisis
27:53
the solution was very much a security
27:55
solution we’ve already seen
27:57
really an increasing role of military
28:00
and policing
28:01
and security and the real process
28:04
of militarization of responses to
28:06
climate change the most obviously in the
28:08
area of the borders
28:09
we see we see border walls going up
28:12
everywhere
28:13
the response to a crisis has been has
28:16
been to kind of retreat between behind
28:18
fortified fortifications no matter the
28:20
consequences
28:22
um and so that that was really that’s
28:25
that’s really a trend that we
28:26
that we see increasingly is that climate
28:29
our response to climate adaptation by
28:30
the richest
28:31
countries is really to military to
28:33
militarize our response to it
28:36
and that’s that’s a and that’s a real as
28:38
as that quote you just read
28:40
that’s a real concern because um it’s
28:43
the kind of politics of the armed
28:45
lifeboat
28:46
um where basically you rescue a few and
28:48
then you
28:50
and then you have a gun trained on the
28:52
rest
28:53
and it’s it’s both totally immoral and
28:55
it’s also ultimately
28:57
one that will sacrifice all of our
28:59
humanity because
29:01
we need to collaborate to respond to the
29:03
climate crisis we need to find solutions
29:05
that protect the vulnerable
29:07
we cannot just keep building higher and
29:09
higher walls
29:10
against the consequences of our
29:11
decisions and we need to actually start
29:13
to tackle the root causes of those
29:16
crises and that that was very much
29:19
a picture we started to paint back in
29:21
2015 with the launch of the book the
29:23
secure and the dispossessed
29:25
but if anything it’s more pertinent and
29:27
more pressing than ever before
29:30
nick paxton thank you thanks
29:36
keeping the profits the huge profits
29:38
rolling um even though it’s wrecking the
29:41
planet so they have no intention long
29:42
term
29:43
of changing their business model their
29:45
business model is wrecking the planet
29:47
and their determination is how to keep
29:49
that going and what we see in all of
29:51
this is that
29:52
corporations in the military are very
29:53
much responding
29:55
in a in a paradigm of control it’s it’s
29:58
security
29:59
and this word security suddenly infected
30:01
every part of
30:02
daily debate we see it food security
30:05
we’ve seen it really recently now with
30:07
everyone saying we need
30:08
security of our borders to protect
30:09
against refugees we need water security
30:12
and in all of these cases what you see
30:15
is those who are being secured
30:17
are the corporations and those who have
30:20
wealth
30:21
and those who are losing out are those
30:22
who are actually suffering the most from
30:24
climate change
30:25
so the peasant who has their land
30:27
grabbed in the name of food security
30:30
the community that no longer has control
30:32
of their river
30:33
because a corporation has has taken it
30:36
in the name of
30:36
water security all the protesters
30:39
against coal power station are actually
30:40
trying to stop the climate crisis
30:42
being repressed and having the civil
30:45
liberties taken away in the name of
30:47
energy security
30:49
in each of these cases the security is
30:51
quite clearly
30:52
for a small proportion of people and
30:55
insecurity
30:56
for the vast majority i think this is
30:58
one of the most important issues of our
31:00
age is
31:01
is do we want to leave our future in the
31:04
hands of corporations in the military

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