Multinational Summits and Agreements,
Top-level Decision-taking and Democracy

by Manfred Davidmann

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Contents

Summary

Participative Organisation: The Meaning of 'Democracy'

Agreements between Top-level Leaderships
The 'General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade' (GATT)
The 'Multilateral Agreement on Investment' (MAI)

Conclusions
Authoritarian Struggle to Take Over and Control Decision-taking by Transferring it to Leaders
Agreements between Top-level Leaderships
Secrecy and Publicity
Social Struggle, Aims and Action

Notes <..> and References {..}

Relevant Current and Associated Works

Relevant Subject Index Pages and Site Overview


Summary

Recently negotiated top-level trading agreements appear to be taking control over key aspects of the internal affairs of participating countries, taking control away from elected governments, giving the control to multinational corporations and top-level organisations.

The information given here was extracted largely from two reports {1, 2}, part of a study undertaken to explore why people have to struggle throughout their adult lives, in all countries and organisations, at all levels, to maintain and improve their standard of living and quality of life. We know what people are struggling to achieve {3, 4} and the study was undertaken to explore why people have to struggle by looking at what they are struggling against <1>.


Participative Organisation: The Meaning of 'Democracy'     <2>

Participative (democratic) organisation {2} rests on the population electing representatives, on the basis of each person having one vote. Representatives are responsible to, and accountable to, the population for putting into effect policies decided by the population.

What underlies participative organisation (democracy) is decision-taking by the people at the level of the people.

What needs to be stressed is that in a participative (democratic) organisation policies are decided by a well-informed population at the level of the population and that these policies then become binding on management or government. <3>

And representatives, governments or government officials do not have the authority or right to reduce or sign away the participative (democratic) rights of the electors, of the population.


In an authoritarian organisation the policy decisions are taken at the top or near the top by the hierarchy (establishment) and are binding on the organisation's members. Decision-taking at the top is sometimes referred to as 'deciding centrally'. Authoritarian organisation is the opposite of democracy and underlies dictatorship.

What we see all around us is conflict between authoritarian minds wishing to dominate, control and exploit on the one hand and, on the other hand, citizens wishing to maintain and improve the standard of living and quality of life for the population as a whole by democratic (grassroots level) decision-taking.

What we see is top-level leaderships trying to take over decision-taking from the population.


So the real struggle is not between political left and right, but is a struggle for participation (the right to take decisions).


Agreements between Top-level Leaderships

Top-level leaderships by agreements between themselves and without proper democratic authority for doing so, are apparently attempting to take over decision-taking from the population, are attempting in this way to negate democratic decision-taking.


The 'General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade' (GATT)

GATT is a treaty between many countries in which they agreed that changed and new life-forms can be owned by multinational corporations, generation after generation. {5}

The GATT agreement apparently gives exclusive protection to patent holders for 20 years and imposes strict enforcement criteria. Huge royalty payments will have to be made to multinational corporations. 'Astonishingly, the rules place the onus of proof in case of dispute on the farmers, a provision going against normal rules of justice' {7}. The resulting costs could prevent the vast mass of small farmers from disputing the source of the seeds they are using. {5}

So multinational corporations have been given ownership over new life-forms and the power to force farmers worldwide to pay the multinational each year for seeds even when these seeds were grown by the farmer the previous year. {5}


It appears that GATT serves the interests of multinationals, that is of those who own and control them, at the expense of the economic and social interests and welfare of individual countries, of their people, of their citizens. {5}

And that a situation has been created in which the nature of profit-motivated and profit-orientated multinationals threatens human independence and freedom. {5}


In 1998 a US multinational 'announced plans to unravel the entire human genetic code by 2001', saying it intended to patent 'the most valuable gene sequences', and to sell the information to scientific institutions and drug companies. {8}

Combining this information with recent developments concerning the cloning of animals and human beings raises disturbing and even fearful prospects.


'Ownership' has been defined as 'the right to possess an item of property' and so one has to look closely at where the right comes from and how it is exercised.

Ownership rights are the property of a country's citizens and communities {9, 10}. No elected representative, government or government employee has overriding fundamental authority to hand over to multinational corporations (that is to those who own and control them {11}), or to anyone else, such ownership rights.

So it would seem that the patent provisions of the GATT agreement are big-business-serving and arbitrary. {9, 5}


The 'Multilateral Agreement on Investment' (MAI)

MAI stands for 'Multilateral Agreement on Investment'. But its name does not reflect those aspects which are of deep concern. What is disturbing are not only the provisions of this proposed treaty but also that the provisions were debated in almost complete secrecy.

It appears that representatives of multinationals and governments representing the 29 richest industrialised countries, all OECD members, had been developing the MAI's provisions at the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) since 1995. This seems to have been done in complete secrecy till a leaked copy became available on the Internet in 1997.

It seems that the agreement was to have been finalised in February 1998. Apparently it was adverse publicity relating to its restrictive provisions which delayed completion as concerned groups of citizens publicised their concerns. And some governments have now withdrawn their support.


So let us look at the kind of provisions this almost-agreed agreement on 'Multilateral Agreement on Investment' contained {12, 13}:

Democratically elected governments

  1. Would have had to allow multinationals access to the country.

  2. Would have been prevented from discriminating against foreign firms, would not be able to refuse any form of investment in any sector apart from defence.

  3. Would have been prevented from reducing or controlling a multinationals profits, say by minimum-wage or anti-pollution legislation, or by legislation to ensure local employment.

Multinationals would have had the right to

  1. Sue national governments for any profits lost through laws which discriminated against the multinational, and which harmed a multinational's interests.

  2. Sue national governments in an international court which would have been closed to public scrutiny.

We saw that multinationals can legally avoid paying corporation tax by transfer pricing {15} and that unitary taxation <4> {14, 15} can overcome this tax avoidance by assessing the actual profits being generated by a multinational in a particular country. Multinationals could, under MAI, have refused to be taxed by a system of unitary taxation.

Socially responsible and caring governmental legislation has to take precedence over the profit-motivated activities of corporations.

But it appears that under MAI the national governments would have handed over control, that is authority to act, over much of the economic and social welfare of their citizens to multinational corporations, that is to those who own and direct these corporations {11}, if they had agreed to this treaty.

In other words, multinationals would have been given overriding authority over democratically elected governments.



Conclusions


Authoritarian Struggle to Take Over and Control Decision-taking by Transferring it to Leaders

Authoritarian minds attempt to take over and place democratically controlled organisations under authoritarian control. They do so by struggling to take over the decision-taking in the management and control of companies, enterprises and all types of community organisations.

We can see the struggle in all organisations and at all levels. It is a struggle against authoritarian management or government for the right to take decisions. And in all democratic organisations it is a struggle against the authoritarian mind taking over the decision-taking.

A continuous battle is taking place between on the one hand policy-deciding by the many through elected assemblies, and on the other hand policy-deciding at the top, by a few. This is clearly shown by the way in which full-time officials and executives attempt to take power away from their policy-setting assemblies, after which they attempt to impose their will on the membership or population.


The government's role of keeping the system in operation and of transferring vast funds from the working population to leaderships {1}, explains the intense struggle going on within political parties for control of decision-taking (policy-setting), with authoritarian minds attempting to concentrate decision-taking in the hands of the top-level party leadership.


These attempts to take over and control decision-taking processes are far more one-sided than would be the case if we were looking at unrelated chance events, at unrelated local struggles. At times the pattern seems progressive as if it were planned.


Agreements between Top-level Leaderships

Recently negotiated top-level trading agreements (GATT and the proposed MAI) appear to be taking away the control over key aspects of the internal affairs of participating countries. Taking control away from their elected governments, giving the control to multinational corporations.

It appears that the 'General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade' (GATT) serves the interests of multinationals, that is of those who own and control them, at the expense of the economic and social interests and welfare of individual countries, of their people, of their citizens. {5}

And it would seem that the patent provisions of the GATT agreement are big-business-serving and arbitrary. {5, 9}


MAI stands for 'Multilateral Agreement on Investment'. But its name does not reflect those aspects which are of deep concern.

What is disturbing are not only the provisions of this proposed treaty but also that the provisions were debated in complete secrecy till a leaked copy became available on the Internet in 1997.

It appears that under MAI the national governments would have handed over control, that is authority to act, over much of the economic and social welfare of their citizens to multinational corporations (that is to those who own and direct these corporations), if they had agreed to this treaty.

In other words, multinationals would have been given overriding authority over democratically elected governments.

And that a situation has been created in which the nature of profit-motivated and profit-orientated multinationals threatens human independence and freedom. {5}


Socially responsible and caring governmental legislation has to take precedence over the profit-motivated activities of corporations.


Secrecy and Publicity

We saw that the MAI's provisions were discussed in complete secrecy and that it was adverse publicity relating to its restrictive provisions which delayed completion of the MAI as concerned groups of citizens publicised their concerns. We also saw that consequently some governments withdrew support.

A company, corporation, multinational organisation or meeting, can serve as a front behind which those who take key decisions can hide, as a front for owners, directors or top-level individuals.

All multinational and so-called 'summit' meetings are suspect. Suspect are also multinational, international, global organisations, too often run by unelected self-perpetuating hierarchies, holding secretive meetings arriving at secretive social, economic or military agreements and treaties.


Social Struggle, Aims and Action

So profits and power are apparently being maximised regardless of the cost to others, to the community. Without care or concern for the condition, standard of living or quality of life of the working population. Without being concerned about the enormous human suffering which results.

What we see are consequences of decisions made at the top, and the results of putting them into effect. Results and consequences which at times make the decisions seem so brutal that they appear inhuman.

What underlies democracy is decision-taking by the people at the level of the people. But what we see is top-level leaderships trying to take over decision-taking from the population.

Secretive top-level multinational meetings and agreements negate democratic government and decision-taking, without having overriding authority or right to do so.

But representatives, governments or government officials do not have the authority or right to override, reduce or sign away the participative (democratic) rights of the electors, of the population.

No elected representative, government or government employee has overriding right or authority

  1. to hand over to corporations (that is to those who own and control them), to any other organisation or to anyone else, an overriding control over the present and future, economic and social, welfare of the people, or

  2. to sign away democratic rights of their people for the self-determination of key fundamental aspects of their lives.

Decision-taking by leaderships has to be replaced by decision-taking at the level of the people.

The real struggle is not between political left and right, but is a struggle for participation (the right to take decisions).


Leaderships fear bad publicity, fear public awareness of socially irresponsible behaviour and consequent impact on sales and market share, on an individual's career or on an organisation's reputation and credibility.

So an effective control of corporate and top-level irresponsibility is publicity of what is being planned or being done, making the public aware of who did or is doing what, and of who condoned or omitted to restrain, antisocial or antidemocratic activities.

Particularly so when publicity names those responsible for making antisocial decisions, and those responsible for condoning, or for omitting to restrain, antisocial activities.



References and Notes


Notes

<1>     See {1-2, 9, 14, 16}.
     
<2>   Extracted from {2} which discusses the meaning of democracy, and its necessary requirements, in more detail.
     
<3>   See also {6} for a more comprehensive discussion of the electing, appointing and appraisal of managers, directors and elected representatives, the right to know, the right to be heard, and of work, pay and differentials.
     
<4>   In {14} see 'Condoning Tax Avoidance by the Rich.'


References

{ 1}     What People are Struggling Against: How Society is Organised for Controlling and Exploiting People
Manfred Davidmann
     
{ 2}   Democracy Under Attack: Top-level Leadership and Decision-taking
Manfred Davidmann
     
{ 3}   MOTIVATION: Summary
Manfred Davidmann
     
{ 4}   The Will to Work: What People Struggle to Achieve
Including: Remuneration, Job Satisfaction and Motivation;
The Struggle for Independence and Good Life

Manfred Davidmann
     
{ 5}   Creating, Patenting and Marketing of New Forms of Life
Manfred Davidmann
     
{ 6}   Co-operatives and Co-operation: Causes of Failure, Guidelines for Success
Manfred Davidmann
     
{ 7}   Seeds of discontent
Walter Schwarz
Guardian, 11/03/94
     
{ 8}   US company plans to patent key gene codes
Paul Brown and Martin Walker
Guardian, 13/05/98
     
{ 9}   Understanding How Society is Organised for Controlling and Exploiting People
Manfred Davidmann
     
{10}   Ownership: Summary
Manfred Davidmann
     
{11}   Ownership and Deciding Policy: Companies, Shareholders, Directors and Community
Manfred Davidmann
     
{12}   Globalisers run into the buffers
Larry Elliott and Charlotte Denny
Guardian, 24/03/98
     
{13}   Move to revive world pact
Larry Elliott
Guardian, 10/09/98
     
{14}   Taxing the Population for Private Profit
Manfred Davidmann
     
{15}   Multinational Operations: Transfer Pricing and Taxation
Manfred Davidmann
     
{16}   Corrupted Economics and Misleading Experts
Manfred Davidmann


Relevant Current and Associated Works

A list of other relevant current and associated reports by Manfred Davidmann:
     
     
Title   Description
     
     
Style of Management and Leadership     Major review and analysis of the style of management and its effect on management effectiveness, decision taking and standard of living. Measures of style of management and government. Overcoming problems of size. Management effectiveness can be increased by 20-30 percent.
     
Role of Managers Under Different Styles of Management     Short summary of the role of managers under authoritarian and participative styles of management. Also covers decision-taking and the basic characteristics of each style.
     
Directing and Managing Change     How to plan ahead, find best strategies, decide and implement, agree targets and objectives, monitor and control progress, evaluate performance, carry out appraisal and target-setting interviews. Describes proved, practical and effective techniques.
     
Inflation, Balance of Payments and Currency Exchange Rates     Reviews the relationships, how inflation affects currency exchange rates and trade, the effect of changing interest rates on share prices and pensions. Discusses multinational operations such as transfer pricing, inflation's burdens and worldwide inequality.
     
Exporting and Importing of Employment and Unemployment   Discusses exporting and importing of employment and unemployment, underlying principles, effect of trade, how to reduce unemployment, social costs of unemployment, community objectives, support for enterprises, socially irresponsible enterprise behaviour.
     
Multinational Operations: Transfer Pricing and Taxation   One of the most controversial operations of multinationals, transfer pricing, is clearly described and defined. An easily-followed illustration shows how transfer pricing can be used by multinationals to maximise their profits by tax avoidance and by obtaining tax rebates. Also discussed is the effect of transfer pricing on the tax burden carried by other tax payers.
     
Creating, Patenting and Marketing of New Forms of Life     Evaluates problems in genetic manipulation, and consequences of private ownership of new life-forms by multinationals. Lists conclusions and recommendations about man-made forms of life, their ownership and patenting, about improving the trend of events.
     
Motivation Summary   Reviews and summarises past work in Motivation. Provides a clear definition of 'motivation', of the factors which motivate and of what people are striving to achieve.
     
The Will to Work: What People Struggle to Achieve   Major review, analysis and report about motivation and motivating. Covers remuneration and job satisfaction as well as the factors which motivate. Develops a clear definition of 'motivation'. Lists what people are striving and struggling to achieve, and progress made, in corporations, communities, countries.
     
What People are Struggling Against: How Society is Organised for Controlling and Exploiting People   Report of study undertaken to find out why people have to struggle throughout their adult lives, in all countries, organisations and levels, to maintain and improve their standard of living and quality of life. Reviews what people are struggling against.
     
Democracy Under Attack: Top-level Leadership and Decision-taking   Discusses and illustrates the internal struggles taking place in political parties and all other organisations, for achieving greater democracy and against those wishing to overpower democratic processes of decision-taking.
     
Social Responsibility, Profits and Social Accountability   Incidents, disasters and catastrophes are here put together as individual case studies and reviewed as a whole. We are facing a sequence of events which are increasing in frequency, severity and extent. There are sections about what can be done about this, on community aims and community leadership, on the worldwide struggle for social accountability.
     
Social Responsibility and Accountability: Summary   Outlines basic causes of socially irresponsible behaviour and ways of solving the problem. Statement of aims. Public demonstrations and protests as essential survival mechanisms. Whistle-blowing. Worldwide struggle to achieve social accountability.
     
Co-operatives and Co-operation: Causes of Failure, Guidelines for Success   Based on eight studies of co-operatives and mutual societies, the report's conclusions and recommendations cover fundamental and practical problems of co-ops and mutual societies, of members, of direction, of management and control. There are extensive sections on Style of Management, decision-taking, management motivation and performance, on General Management principles and their application in practice.
     
Work and Pay   Major review and analysis of work and pay in relation to employer, employee and community. Provides the underlying knowledge and understanding for scientific determination and prediction of rates of pay, remuneration and differentials, of National Remuneration Scales and of the National Remuneration Pattern of pay and differentials.
     
Work and Pay: Summary   Concise summary review of whole subject of work and pay, in clear language. Covers pay, incomes and differentials and the interests and requirements of owners and employers, of the individual and his family, and of the community.
     
Using Words to Communicate Effectively   Shows how to communicate more effectively, covering aspects of thinking, writing, speaking and listening as well as formal and informal communications. Consists of guidelines found useful by university students and practising middle and senior managers.
     
Corrupted Economics and Misleading Experts   Shows how 'Economics' is used to misinform and mislead the general public. Clearly states underlying considerations of specific important economic relationships and comments on misleading political interpretations and on role of independent experts.
     
Taxing the Population for Private Profit   Shows how taxpayers' moneys are used in different ways to enlarge the profits of companies (corporations). These are in effect allowed to tax the population and to pass large parts of their operating costs to taxpayers and so to competitors.
     
Understanding How Society is Organised for Controlling and Exploiting People   Describes how corporations (companies) accumulate their capital and reserves from moneys taken from customers. Enterprises are allowed to collect, take over and control such moneys. Cooperatives also take over moneys from their members. And much more.
     
Community and Public Ownership   This report objectively evaluates community ownership and reviews the reasons both for nationalising and for privatising. Performance, control and accountability of community-owned enterprises and industries are discussed. Points made are illustrated by a number of striking case-studies.
     
Ownership and Limited Liability   Discusses different types of enterprises and the extent to which owners are responsible for repaying the debts of their enterprise. Also discussed are disadvantages, difficulties and abuses associated with the system of Limited Liability, and their implications for customers, suppliers and employees.
     
Ownership and Deciding Policy: Companies, Shareholders, Directors and Community   A short statement which describes the system by which a company's majority shareholders decide policy and control the company.
     
The Right to Strike   Discusses and defines the right to strike, the extent to which people can strike and what this implies. Also discussed are aspects of current problems such as part-time work and home working, Works Councils, uses and misuses of linking pay to a cost-of-living index, participation in decision-taking, upward redistribution of income and wealth.
     
Ownership: Summary   Ownership means control, means decision-taking. This short review covers where the right to ownership comes from and how it is exercised. Ownership of land, means of production, and wealth. Ownership in relation to incomes, need, and human rights.

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Relevant Subject Index Pages and Site Overview


The Site Overview page has links to all individual Subject Index Pages which between them list the works by Manfred Davidmann which are available on the Internet, with short descriptions and links for downloading.

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Copyright    ©    2002    Manfred Davidmann
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History
25/06/02 Work Completed
30/06/02 To Website