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4 Race & Class 51(3)
becoming obvious for all to see. ‘Globalism’, the ideological underpinning of globalisation, preached (and imposed) free markets, neoliberal privatisation of state industries and institutions, unfettered free movement of goods and capital, disciplining and control of labour (no unfettered freedom there), with its disposal at the behest of foreign multinationals. In the 1990s, we can say that globalisation became a hegemonic economic system. The unconstrained freedom of global neoliberalism necessitated retention and creation of powers for the close disciplining of possibly recalcitrant populations, either overtly, through state force as in many Third World countries, or covertly through techniques of surveillance, as in many western democracies. For, while globalisation is popularly understood as an interconnected, interdependent world, characterised by lightning communications, easy travel and international trade, this is by no means the whole picture. At its heart is a politics that owes little to popular democracy (except in the most superficial sense), but almost everything of substance to transnational corporations, financial interests, ruling elites, transnational institutions of financial governance and compliant nation states.
As Sivanandan puts it: Globalisation in political essence is international government by multinational corporations aided by nation states. In treating globalisation as a wholly economic project, we tend to overlook its political underpinnings. And the nation state is the political agency through which corporations are able to effect regime-change and/or sustain friendly regimes, militarily or politically to get at a country’s resources and markets.7
Biometrics, ID cards, databases, data-mining, interception of communications and more all existed before 11 September 2001. What stood in the way of their widescale development, their ‘universality’, was a political will which was constrained by a fading adherence to liberal norms. Take for example, the EU-FBI Requirements allowing for the interception of telecommunications (phone calls, emails and faxes) which were adopted by the EU as far back as January 1995, to give law enforcement agencies access to all communications data.8 Despite that agreement on paper, EU governments displayed a distinct lack of ‘political will’ about proceeding with the EU-FBI ‘Requirements’. Then, in 1998, it was proposed to amend these Requirements to cover internet and satellite telecommunications as well; the EU report setting this out was thought at the time to be virtually the finalised version (in ENFOPOL 19/99, 15 March 1999). Yet, this report too continued to gather dust, almost five years after the original agreement. By October 1999, the EU Working Party on the issue noted that ‘progress in this matter is being very slow’. ‘In previous meetings [the working party had] discussed that it could be sensible to get some political support from upper instances in the Council for this matter to go forward.[emphasis added]’ The main reason for the delay and the apparent lack of political support was held to be ‘the negative press that this issue has received in the media’. Perhaps, opined the Working Party, to counter this, the Council should put out a press release of its own but ‘several delegations . . .