COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
Nationalism has been the battle cry among Third World countries that were under the control by imperialist powers during the colonial period. Domination over these countries did not end with the granting of independence but continue to operate in the economic sphere. Development, therefore, in the Third World has to be viewed from the neo-colonial conditions of these evolving states.
The continuing economic situation is that the Third World countries have remained as the source of raw materials for the industrialized states and market for surplus goods, thereby perpetuating dependence on the latter and resulting in the underdevelopment of the countries in the Third World. The resulting underdevelopment further plunged these countries to export human labor—like the rise of overseas workers—and draining their population of the more competent members of the workforce who could have made a bigger contribution to their economies.
Any move towards collective self-reliance to gain a better bargaining power by the underdeveloped countries might prove to be a logical step in improving their common plight. Like the oil cartel, these countries must form a strong force and avoid being pitted against one another. Any association formed among the countries in the Third World must be vigilant in protecting their rights and interests or the association might otherwise become a more convenient means for the rich industrialized states to strengthen their hold on the world market.
A single country fighting the big and powerful Trans-national Corporations (TNCs) in the name of nationalism can easily be crushed and brought to pieces. In protecting their business interests, TNCs can create disorder in their host country and can further slow down its economy. A few of these corporations are earning incomes greater than the gross national product of their host countries that they can impose an economic blockade. And along with the rich industrialized states, the TNCs can go to the extent of subduing nationalist movements in the Third World in their aim for dominance in the world market.
Likewise, globalization has erased the power of sovereign states and reduced the world into one big commercial market with global corporations ruling as big business empires. In the process, local cultures are being annihilated and super-imposed with the culture of money, nations are being subverted to give way to international finance, and the people of the world reduced to mere consumers, and workers for the capitalist class.
So nationalism might be a too narrow stance to take in fighting global corporations that operates beyond national borders. Nationalism is a more applicable battle cry when one is simply fighting a foreign state in the act of domination. But for global business ruled by cold capital that does not respect nations, peoples, and other languages and cultures; a regional or even global formation must be in the making.
Southeast Asia for that matter must make its own formation. And so does the underdeveloped countries in Africa, Latin America, and other parts of Europe and Asia. These regional formations must link together as they see their common plight in the vicious rule of capital and must make a common stand. The people of the world will eventually realize that the different issues surrounding poverty, human rights, social justice, land ownership, out-migration and the other major social ills are the inevitable consequences of the workings of the boorish, expedient, and ruthless capitalist class.