The leader of the pacifist movements in sixties and one of the most relevant figures of the anti-globalization groups in an exclusive interview for PRAVDA.Ru
"You know, I've met Noam Chomsky in Porto Alegre. He was giving a conference there and I came across with him. I havenґt seen him for 35 year. Even when he's got an excellent photographic memory, he did not recognize me. Maybe for the goatee." Tom Hayden is now 63 and has been a social rights activist since he was at the University, forty years ago. He became worldwide famous as the leader of the Chicago Seven, a group of students that broke into the Democrat National Convention in 1968 to protest against the war in Vietnam. Since then, his name is linked with the activism for labor and social rights.
Times are different now, but not at all. There's still something to fight for, maybe the world is now more unjust than in the sixties. The mankind is again in the eve of a war, maybe more cruel and destructive than the one that took Hayden to the streets in the 1960's. Iraq proves that the USA has not learned too much from Vietnam and its will to control world's natural resources remains the same. So there is Tom Hayden. He, as hundred of thousands of anti-globalization activist, keep on fighting for a better world.
Q. How did you become an active militant of the anti-globalization movement?
I was very involved in the demonstrations in Seattle in 1999, at the time I was member of the California State legislature. I believed then and I still believe that the World Trade Organization is a menace to Democracy. Specifically, it has the power to subvert or override laws concerning labor standards, environmental standards, water quality and so on. So I joined the pro-Democracy and Anti-globalization movement.
Q. What does the Anti-Globalization movement mean?
A. Globalization is an arrangement for a new international set of laws and they favor investor rights and property rights for purposes of world trade. The anti-globalization movement is for a global justice. It's not just protectionism or nationalism. We believe that international order should include protections for labor, Human Rights and environment. To be more specific, under globalization by the WTO, high tech companies, computer companies, CD manufacturers, all have written themselves very strong enforceable laws concerning their property rights. But there are no enforceable rights for the teenage workers that make those videocassettes. So, globalization is uncompleted, unjust and unbalanced until you have protections for workers. Q. Why a person from the USA should join the Anti-Globalization movement?
A. They say that the young people is very upset about the world they are inheriting from the older generation and they feel that it is completely unjust. They don't want to be part of it. It is a simply moral issue for them. They also know that our Government is trying to create an empire: militarizing and globalizing at the same time. This means wars that the young Americans will have to serve in and perhaps die in for purposes that are questionable and dubious. It means a military budget that is the biggest in the History of the world. It means that the money from the military budget is subtracted on what can be spend in education, in the environment or in the health care. There are a lot of unfinished businesses in the United States. They know that the expending in the military budget means there'll be less money for programs like Lula's proposal for making sure that everybody in the world has three meals a day. So they know that. They know that the clothes they wear are made by teenagers. It is not unusual for people in the US to have idealistic expectations and to think beyond narrow national and personal interests. But it is also a practical matter. You can think it on this way: all the generations in the US is borrowing all from its children, borrowing from the future.
Q. Do you think Bush is going to attack Iraq? And if so, what should the anti-globalization movement do?
A. Well, the question is hard to answer as every day brings us fresh news. I agree with those who say that Bush wants war and that is prepared to do everything to have his way. On the other hand, anti-war movement in the USA is bigger this time than it was at the beginning of the Vietnam War. The support for the war comes from the hard line republican pro-Bush partisans. They want to create a protectorate in the Middle East, in Baghdad, from which they would control oil supplies and they will be entitled to overthrow Iran and Syria and destroy Hezbollah and impose a settlement on the Palestinians. Now we've sent 250.000 troops there. If Bush calls the war off, it is like surrender for his point of view.
Q.Is the Free Trade Zone of the Americas part of this building up of an Empire?
A.Yes. NAFTA was Canada, the USA and Mexico, has been a disaster. The unemployment in Mexico is much higher than at the beginning of NAFTA. The middle class has collapsed in Mexico. Millions of farmers have been ruined because of the flood of imports from the USA. The immigration crisis is getting worse because the US imports cause more immigrants to leave places like Chiapas. Probably 3.000 people have died in the border since NAFTA and they do not count same numbers at the World Trade Center. They also do not count the bodies on the Mexican side of the border, so it is probably worse. ALCA is a NAFTA expanded is like NAFTA and asteroids growing in all Latin America. In Cancun, they will try to consolidate the Agricultural Agreement, which allows the USA to subsidize agriculture by many millions of Dollars. It is direct threat to agriculture in Southern Latin America: Brazil, Argentina. But in addition, they want to privatize electricity rates, services, and even education. It means that Government's subsidies to essential services in the public interest will be considered discrimination in ALCA, because they will discriminate against the property right. Q.With the above in mind, is there something that Russia could obtain from globalization?
A. For the Russians the term globalization may have another meaning. The Russians are not anti-globalization; they want to be part of it and not to be isolated. I understand and agree with that. But without going back to the policies of the former Soviet Union I hope that the Russian government and policies will push forward an independent, sovereign, Russian rule in this international order. I would hope that the Russian do not have their natural resources rapped by multinationals and their very rich national heritage replaced by McDonald's. I am sure that the Russians will feel on the same way. So in absence the anti-globalization, unless globalization includes respect for the dignity of Russian national culture, Russian sovereignty over their own natural resources. The purpose of Russia is not to become a colony of the United States but this is what US led globalization will intend.
As he says, he is not a globetrotter. Tom Hayden is a fighter trying to learn from the new movements. Such spirit led him to South America: to Porto Alegre first and to Argentina then, to see the new forms of social fight. He will come back to Los Angeles to keep on learning from the struggle of the poor. As in Chicago in 1968, he will stand for people rights in the FTAA meeting in Miami and in the WTO summit in Cancun in November. As time goes by the fight remains the same.
Tom Hayden was interviewed by Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina
Photo: Tom Hayden was accused of betraying the United States of America when he and his wife Jane Fonda flew to Hanoi to protest against the Vietnam war.