Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 4, 2002
Big companies rule the world, priest tells chaplains
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Christians must join in the battle against transnational corporations that are using globalization to take control of the world, says a prominent English priest and social psychologist.
"The world today is in the hands of the transnational corporations," said Father Diarmuid O'Murchu. "Nation states have no input and no control over transnational corporations."
He said Christians must begin "shifting their consciousness around this issue" and take action.
O'Murchu, a member of the Sacred Heart Missionaries and an author who works as a counsellor and social psychologist in London, England, was guest speaker at the annual convention of Canadian Association for Pastoral Practice and Education.
O'Murchu described globalization as "the transnational set of procedures and structures used to trade goods and services in the global market." But transnational corporations have converted those structures into tools for world domination.
He said the G8, which is supposed to be the monitoring body for multinational corporations, has in reality become "a kind of a laundering service for the work of the transnational corporations."
O'Murchu also warned against the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, bodies that have "a lot of economic clout with a rather dismal sense of responsibility of how they handle resources, particularly economic resources."
Few know how these three bodies work together "because they make their major decisions in secret."
Christians must challenge transnational corporations and their structures, he said. "The challenge here is to become part of networks, most of which are not yet in existence, and to begin challenging the fundamental injustices being promoted through these structures."
Example. Through their structures, such as the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights, transnational corporations are trying to prevent poor countries from reproducing important medications like the AIDS/HIV drugs produced by Western companies.
Now companies in Brazil, Kenya and South Africa are defying that ban and are reproducing the drugs because they are too expensive to import from the West.
"So there are signs of hope here that some of the poorest countries in the world are beginning to stand up for themselves," O'Murchu said.
But the economic disparity is great, says the author.
"In 1996, of the 100 richest economies in the world, 52 of them were transnational corporations and 48 were nation states."
McDonald's has a larger economy than every country in Africa with the exception of South Africa, according to O'Murchu. Mitsubishi and General Motors have stronger economies than Scandinavia, Denmark, Portugal.
"We must begin shifting our consciousness around this issue because action follows thought," O'Murchu said. "And until we begin to think and imagine and dream more coherently, the right action will not begin to happen. I believe that this is what Jesus and all the great spiritual leaders of the world have challenged us to do."