Erle Frayne D. Argonza

The rugs under our feet are changing fast. Even before the changes, brought forth by globalization and rising new economic powers, took place in the early 1990s, this analyst was already of the mindset towards building a (a) strong ASEAN and (b) re-engineer the global context towards multipolarity.

At that time, the Soviet Union just collapsed, with Stalinist regimes crashing down infamy and erasure as once thriving states. ‘Tiger’ and ‘dragon’ economies of Asia were roaring sonorous waves that shuddered the enclaves of fascistic world powers. Open societies, multi-culturality, and new economic players were making waves world-wide.

By the late 1990s, the clamor for a multi-polar arrangement became stronger. That is where the world is heading to anyway, so the world powers may as well register in their elites’ mental banks the need to reconfigure the way they relate to developing countries.

Having witnessed how great powers—acting on the behest of their dominant elites (oligarchs, politicians, technocrats, military elites)—crash developing countries down to more appalling living conditions via public policy dictates, I could only but bite the bullet and feel ambivalent towards the North in particular. The northern elites have already ensured, using zero-sum game rules, that the south will never ever rise to economic prominence, much more to political prominence.

Philippines was made into a favorite guinea pig for IMF-sanctioned policies on currency decontrol, devaluation, and liberalization reforms. World Bank pressures ensured that PH can never install its heavy industries, notably steel, by shackling financing efforts from overseas to bankroll major industrial projects.

IMF austerity reforms lashed out with the fury of super-typhoons, tsunamis, and mega-quakes combined, assuring the rise of poverty to 60% when strongman Marcos was booted out in 1986. Virata & technocrats, all pro-World Bank-IMF, were the true power wielders in the country and made sure that the North gets its impositions going.

There is no better option than for the developing countries to do its best in surging ahead economically via sustained growth, equitable wealth distribution, and poverty reduction. Hence creating a large middle class, the DCs (developing countries) can then get together in global coalitions to promote mutual cooperation and protection against the predatory powers of the North.

Such are the reasons for my pro-ASEAN advocacy. Relatively sovereign as a confederation, the ASEAN can become a global power in the short run provided that the union and its policies develop a strong constituency where there is none today. The true constituents are the citizens of member states, they should develop the regional consciousness and the sense of responsibility for advancing and defending the nascent union.

The ancient days of world power hooliganism, which accompanied power relations with wars of destruction and sustained global chaos, should be put to rest. The North should quickly learn the emerging ways of the globalized community, and cease from treating the South as populated by sub-humanoids or ‘colored monkeys with no tails’.

China, India, Brazil, ASEAN are rising to global economic and political prominence. Old powers Britain, America, France, should better pay attention well to the emerging reality, while Russia can swing its allegiance towards the emerging powers (Russia is itself ancient).

Multipolarity will enable the further growth of cooperation, multi-national exchanges, trust and mutual respect. It should. The South is now showing the way for such ideal states to happen.

[Philippines, 03 June 2011]

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