Theater of Cruelty

Are we Germans in the 30's?

I've taken peaches in throwing things at the TV. Again. It was about the rules of the game.


[media] Today, January 26, Secretary of State Raymond Johansen attends a meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa. There, he will be told that African leaders believe the international rules of the game are terribly unfair, and that a new and development-friendly WTO trade agreement must be in place, export subsidies must be removed. Things can happen in Davos this weekend. On January 27, Jonas Gahr Støre attends an informal ministerial meeting on precisely the WTO.

If the international rules of the game are in fact greedily unfair, if you and I make money on a system that keeps others down – what then? The oil fund is filled with a CO2 cannon that helps to destroy the livelihoods of many poor countries – where is the debate about investing parts of the fund in alternative energy? We in the rich part of the world are today in the same boat as the Germans in the 30s, says Thomas Pogge. He is a professor at Columbia University in New York and believes we should see the injustice going on, and that we should ask more critical questions as the Germans should have done.

More critical issues: New media channels are popping up in the wild, without giving much variation to mainstream journalism. Multimedia machines pump out the same content on more and more platforms. "A news-poor Monday in Norway," comments Kjetil Wiedswang in Dagens Næringsliv on January 16, following the launch of the TV2 News channel. News Poor? Fog Prat. News is not something that happens, but something journalists construct. The news is not the reality itself, but the reports of the reality. Reports that are written in specific, routine ways. They could have been completely different.

Notices about the global rules of the game are not exactly on the front page of VG every day. According to the text archive A-tekst, the trip agreement on intellectual property rights, which many developing countries are opposed to and want to change, was only mentioned in nine newspaper articles throughout 2006. Could we care less? When international trade, globalization and supranationality are first covered in the major media, it most often happens through national glasses, with a focus on Norwegian business interests. And if the mainstream media rarely tries to see the debate from the developing countries' perspective, it can go as bad as at Holmgang on 10 January. That's when I started throwing things at the TV.

Down in Oddvar Stenström's muddy trench is either the African farmer or the Norwegian. One must die. In reality, it is a matter of reorganizing Norwegian subsidies so that they no longer legitimize EU and US export dumping. A concrete measure will be that all subsidies are reported to the WTO, so that importing countries can impose a punitive duty corresponding to the subsidies. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been challenged several times about reporting here in Ny Tid, without Liv Monica Stubholt giving a proper answer. Stenstrøm should have addressed this if he had wanted to take the debate further, and not just destroy it.

Kaare M. Bilden, Acting columnist and debate editor.

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