Developing a 'framing narrative' for the CAFTA talks
'Framing' refers to an overall narrative, a story, that is used to make logical sense of an issue. forget winning on the facts or the science. It's all about the story. It really isn't possible to counter-act the official CAFTA framing narrative using a partial or fragmented framing story which only focuses on 'what is wrong with CAFTA' since the CAFTA narrative is only one small part of a larger story.
The use of framing narratives as propaganda toolsThe Alternet site recently published a piece on the strategy being adopted by the Republicans in the White House (no doubt under the tutelage of the legendary spin doctor Karl Rove) which is referred to as framing. 'Framing' refers to an overall narrative, a story, that is used to make logical sense of an issue. George Lakoff, an author and professor of linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley who calls himself a "cognitive activist," says this: "One of the fundamental findings of cognitive science is that people think in terms of frames and metaphors - conceptual structures ... When the facts don't fit the frames, the frames are kept and the facts ignored." In other words, forget winning on the facts or the science. It's all about the story. And once stories take hold, they're hard to dislodge."
As an example of how framing can be used to spin an issue, the article then goes on to examine the advice given to Republicans on the subject of environmentalism. The advice is remarkably frank. Republicans do not need to tell the truth, but rather what is required is a credible sounding narrative, which will then serve to 'frame' the discussion, and all facts that do not fit the frame will be rejected. The advice of their public relations expert is that "Indeed it can be helpful to think of environmental and other issues in terms of 'story.' A compelling story, even if factually inaccurate, can be more emotionally compelling than a dry recitation of the truth... The facts are beside the point. It's all in how you frame your argument."
One good example of an environmental narrative (a 'frame') would be the Orwellian named 'Healthy Forests Initiative.' Here the story is that environmentalists, by refusing to allow healthy thinning of the forests, are behaving as extremists, and thus are not only fueling deadly forest fires, but are also causing billions of dollars in lost revenues when profitable wood goes up in smoke, wood that could have been harvested, thus thinning the forests, and thus keeping the environment healthy. This frame could prove to be very useful during the 2004 election campaign when Bush could very well find himself campaigning for office in the midst of a fire season as disastrous as that currently taking place in California this fall. Two birds can be killed with one stone using this narrative. First environmentalists can be neutralized, and portrayed as reckless extremists, and forestry regulations can be gutted, and all this can be spun using an 'environmentally friendly' narrative which uses key focus words such as 'healthy' to make the more radical free market forestry proposals hidden in the administrations legislation seem 'pro- environment' rather than 'pro-business'.
Now a 'framing narrative' cannot be fought piece meal by exposing the facts, since facts that don't fit the accepted frame will be rejected, since apparently people think in terms of frames. Furthermore, the advice politicians are receiving is quite blunt in stating that the frame need not be truthful, it only needs to be compelling, to carry within it a kind of compelling logical consistency that would cause the frame to be accepted as the overall narrative that explains a certain issue. Therefore, one can only fight fire with fire, and frames must be fought and resisted using frames, and I would recommend that if politicians are going to use less than truthful frames the best counter strategy would be to resist using truthful frames. A truthful frame must incorporate the facts, but must not consist of a dry recitation of facts, but rather these facts must be incorporated within a 'framing narrative.'
As regards the 'healthy forests' story, it is false to suggest that environmentalists are responsible for the state of America's unhealthy forests. Rather, if you look back through history, you will find that big timber companies bear the responsibility for that fiasco, in that they pushed the government to fight against nature, by refusing to allow forest fires to burn naturally, using the logic that forest fires would burn commercially valuable timber, and so when timber companies saw a forest fire, you might say they saw their own wallets on fire, since when they look at a tree, they automatically think of how many dollars the tree is worth. (This is why they are determined to eradicate the old growth forests, since one single old growth tree is worth one hundred thousand dollars, ten are worth a million, ten thousand are worth a billion dollars, and so on). Environmentalists were actually in favor of letting nature run its course in the forests, and if you are familiar with the history of Yellowstone National Park, you might recall that under pressure from environmentalists, forest fire fighting was downgraded in Yellowstone, which let fires run unchecked, which led to furious complaints from the public about the eye sores caused by burn outs in the park, which caused a backlash against environmentalists.
The point here is that the problem in the forest is not caused by environmental regulations, or legal oversight, or by lack of prudent and timely logging, but rather by years of fighting against nature at the behest of big timber companies, who are now cynically using a framing narrative to attempt to not only shift the blame to environmentalists, but also to gut the systems of legal oversight and environmental regulations, as well as to gain logging access to previously protected forested areas. All this is being achieved using 'framing', in particular by using a frame which is untruthful, but nevertheless powerfully compelling since it provides a narrative that seems logically consistent.
The frame is particularly effective since it promotes logging as the environmentally responsible solution, while taking tar and feathers to environmentalists who are portrayed as ridiculous and actually in favor of harming the forests by keeping them unhealthy. Once again the frame is untruthful on this point, since most of the resistance is not some knee jerk reaction by environmentalists but rather a protest against the gutting of legal oversight, environmental regulations, and the opening of protected areas to logging, but these facts are lost, disposed of as it were, because they don't fit into the over all narrative, which promotes deregulation and cancellation of oversight as required due to the urgent, pressing need to preserve a healthy forest environment.
The inevitability of 'free trade' and 'neo-liberalism'In order to understand the official narrative that is used to frame such free trading deals as CAFTA, it is important to understand the way that free market economies work over time, since accords such as CAFTA are a natural outgrowth of stresses and difficulties in advanced free market economies.
The modern 'free market' (or 'capitalist') system has been in play for about two and half centuries. An observation of the workings of the free market system over this time period reveals a pattern of structural weaknesses that appear again and again in a repeating cycle. Free market economies are addicted to growth, and this remains true even though eventually this addiction proves to be irrational and unsustainable. Simple mathematical logic reveals that endless growth is not possible when the natural system on which any free market economy must be based is finite. While this simple logical principle has always been true, in modern times the painful truth is becoming more and more evident as growth addicted free marketeering wrecks ever greater destruction upon the environment in which it functions.
Typically framing has always been used to shift the blame, for example we should sterilize the people of the poorer nations, since they are 'wrecking the planet.' This thing was dredged up repeatedly in the last century, and as a framing device it proved to be compelling, so that a major sterilization campaign was underway in the middle of the last century, when the population was half what it is today. Like many of these framing narratives, the story line was less than truthful. Poorer people by definition do not heavily consume resources, since they can't afford to. In addition, the free market concentrates wealth, which drives the cycle of poverty, and its fiercely competitive nature causes people to not only fiercely compete for survival with other human beings, but also to do what ever they have to in order to survive, and often this results in desperation which causes harmful impacts on the environment - for example in Africa really poor people, always malnourished and the precipice of starvation, would chop down trees to make a few dollars selling charcoal, which denuded the environment and also fueled desertification. Now the framing narrative suggested that the solution to this level of free market desperation was to get rid of the poor people by sterilizing them so they wouldn't breed, but the real problem is income inequality, but no one wanted to use that framing narrative to describe the problem and its solution, so sterilization becoming the compelling narrative back in the 1950s. As well, deep poverty encourages population growth, in that poor people need to have a lot of kids as a form of social security. When they get old they can get one potato from one child, maybe a single carrot from another child, and thus survive in old age without being a stress on just one or two children. Once again the solution, an alternative framing narrative, would be to eliminate the desperate poverty that drives this form of population growth by having in place a reliable system of 'social security'. Large families are a survival strategy, and the alternative is to ask really poor people to take a bullet and graciously agree to starve to death in old age for the good of the overall free market system, and no on is likely to agree to do something like that.
Free market economies are obsessed with growth, not because endless growth is somehow logical or even really required. One can imagine a stable economy, but a stable free market economy does not exist, and the reason for this is principally greed. Growth is required if people are to get richer and richer and richer. It is this drive to be richer next year than this year that fuels the obsession with fast paced growth in free market economies, and is also responsible for unsustainable development practices, which, if you follow the logic through to its conclusion, will someday result in collapse.
Which brings us to the second repetitive feature of free market capitalism, and that is the habit of such economic systems to periodically collapse into ruins. Ever since the free market was established, the nations practicing this economic system were forced to repeatedly endure disastrous economic collapses. Great Depressions occurred over and over again for close to two centuries, with the Great Depression in the mid 1800s being particularly severe and lasting for twenty years, and with the Great Depression of the 1930s simply being the most famous example of this repetitive collapse that is one of the entrenched features of the free market system. As the planet began to swing towards the left, the Free Market Liberals, under Roosevelt, instituted regulated capitalism in the 1930s, and the result of this policy was not to eliminate the boom and bust cycle, but rather to lift the bottom of the pit. A recession then became the typical expression of the collapse of the free market, with a recession simply being a less severe form of depression. So then regulated capitalism produces recessions while deregulated capitalism (such as the type that is now in vogue since the time of Reagan) produces the more severe Great Depressions. .
Now Depressions are primarily caused by an increase in income inequality, and the increase of production, the addiction to growth, is also a second contributing factor. What happens is that as wealth accumulates at the top, the spending power at the bottom of the free market economy is eroded. As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer the conditions are established for a complete collapse of the cycle of buying and selling products that is characteristic of a free market economy In addition, the drive to increase profits results in intense competition and both increases in production and increases in productivity. Normally, increases in productivity are achieved by producing more goods using less labor, and this also erodes spending power at the base of the pyramid. As jobs are lost, and as other factors come into play, such as cuts in wages and benefits and the busting of unions, and as wealth continues to accumulate at the top, the conditions for a Great Depression develop. All the growth, all the increases in production, result in the over supply of goods, while at the same time there is an erosion of spending power at the base of the economy. The result is deflation, and as prices fall, profits fall, resulting in more lay offs, and also in a drive to further increase productivity using a smaller labor force, which intensifies the problem. Spending power at the base is further eroded, the over supply of goods continues and so deflation continues. Unemployment spirals year after year as the economy sinks into the pit known as a Great Depression.
The solution of regulated capitalism is to lower the bottom of the pit, resulting in a recession, which ruins millions of people, rather than a depression, which ruins tens or even hundreds of millions of people (the difference is only one of severity). This effect is typically achieved through progressive taxation combined with government spending, which attacks the income inequality which is the actual source of the problem. However over a period of time, it can be seen that regulating the free market does not solve the eventual problems such a system creates, but rather it only slows down the process, and is thus not a long term solution.
Which brings us to the discussion of 'free trade' which has been so much in vogue since the time of Ronald Reagan. Now under the free market system it is inevitable that sooner or later the sytem should move in exactly the direction it has been seen to move. In fact, it can't do anything other than what it does, and the working out of these long term economic trends is actually predictable.
If one looks back over history, one can see that all the very rich free market countries became rich by successfully employing the device known as 'protectionism', which is the opposite to 'free trade.' One classic example is that of Great Britain, a nation which put up trade barriers and high tariffs to nurture and protect its textile industry in the 1800s. Now as this industry thrived, protected as it was behind high walls, it grew since it had a protected monopoly in its home market. However, as time went by, the doctrine of 'endless growth' dictated that sooner or later Great Britain would suddenly become a lot less interested in protectionism, and suddenly become a preacher of the 'virtues' of 'free trade'. In particular, Britain was very interested in promoting free trade in textiles, since protectionism had run its course in Britain, there were no more local growth prospects, and so if the free market was to continue its expansion and continue to generate higher and higher profits, so that fortunate Brits could get richer and richer and richer, Britain would need to knock down tariff barriers to textile imports in other countries, to extend the marketing opportunities. The alternative would be over production of textiles in the British market, if the constant competitive drive of the free marketeers was allowed to run its course, and this would result in deflation, and the vicious circle would begin which result in an economic melt down in Britain. Another alternative would be for Britain to stop growing and just stand pat, and thus people would never get any richer than they were, and since that was not going to happen, Britain turned to free trade instead, and forgetting about its protectionist past, became a moralizing evangelist touting the benefits of free trade agreements, while damning the sin and damnations of protectionism. As I said, there is a compelling logic to these free market scenarios that makes behavior under these systems follow a certain predicable logic.
Now a similar process was at work in the United States, which, after years of protectionism and tariffs, suddenly, at the right historical moment, which happened to coincide with the Reagan years, discovered, much like a newly baptized religious convert, the sinfulness of its past protectionist policies, and having seen the light and found the Lord, naturally, like all saved zealots, had to go out and 'save the world' by becoming an apostle of free trade and that form of 'restructuring' and 'rationalization of the economy' which became known as 'neo-liberalism', which, according to the sermons coming out of Washington at the time, was now the only true religion. From that time forward Washington began to preach with all the zeal of the converted, its sermons focusing on the benefits of 'free markets' and 'free trade' and as the world's leading apostle for the one true faith, Washington sent out the IMF to enforce proper doctrine and dogma by 'restructuring' and 'rationalizing' the economies of so called 'second' and 'third world' countries.
Now the reasons for this conversion to the true faith in the case of the United States were the same as Britains conversion to 'free trade' in earlier century. The logical time had simply come for the United States to smash down all protectionist barriers and tariff walls if the United States was going to continue to grow its economy and if certain Americans were to see endless growth in their mutual funds and stock investments, thus getting richer and richer. It just wouldn't be possible for this endless growth to take place if the United States stayed behind protectionist walls within its own country, since like a lizard which had grown to much, the time had come to shed its skin.
Selling the false religionNow no country ever became rich by practicing 'free trade'. Just a simple observation of the history of the world's economy proves that point rather clearly. Even though this was not true, a false frame was created that stated that the only way that poor countries could become rich is if they 'restructured' their economies, under the benevolent tutelage of the IMF, and by signing on to free trade agreements, thus allowing the magic of the free marketing system to begin to work its wonders. According to the devious and false framing narrative, the fact that poor countries were so mired in poverty was due to their nasty tendency not to practice the proper religion of free markets and free trading. The only solution to what ailed them was to 'restructure' their economies and throw open their markets to the world. The proof that this free market free trading ideology was the true religion was the magnificent wealth of free market free trading countries, such as America, and the success of these nations was to be the role model for the rest of the world. This deviously false frame ignored the inconvenient fact that these rich nations got to be so rich because they were protected by high tariff walls. Of course they also practiced colonialism. Basically what these means is that poor countries are occupied and then become exporters the cheap, raw commodities that countries like Britain required as raw materials to fuel the growth of their highly protected textile industry as just one example. The Brits then began exporting these textiles to the colonies, devastating the indigenous textile industries in countries such as India. So, ironically, India exported the raw materials and then imported the finished products, while destroying their own textile industry in the process. And this is thumbnail sketch of how 'free trade' works in the real world.
The 'framing' of the free trade narrative
The pattern repeats itself in this century. For example, the African nations were 'restructured' by the IMF, their economies were 'liberalized' to 'encourage free market principles'. The result has been over the past few decades, the destruction of economies all over Africa. The wave of destruction has also spread throughout South American economies, and now, with CAFTA about to preach the true religion throughout Central America, another wave of destruction is about to spread throughout Central America, just as the economy of Mexico was pummeled under the earlier NAFTA agreement (the big benefit to Mexico being the establishment of sweat shops along the border, along with the disintegration of overwhelmed sections of the Mexican economy).
Now free traders will say that, yes, Free Trade and the policies of 'neo-liberalism' (as its called) will require some 'painful adjustments' (as they call it) by cutting a swath of destruction through the industrial base of these countries. But the framing narrative shifts the blame to the nations being devastated, by suggesting that this is happening because they were not practicing the true religion in the first place. Such industries deserve to be destroyed. If they want to produce shoddy goods that can't compete, they should fail, since the logic of a free market economy demand this. It is part of the painful adjustment such backwards countries must make if they hope to become 'integrated' into the new dogmatic religion of the free market system.
Now the true purpose of 'free trade' and 'neo-liberal restructuring' is to provide a market for the oversupply of goods produced by the 'advanced' economies. Nevertheless, the false framing narrative suggests that free trade is being promoted 'for the good of the poorer nations' and its purpose is to 'lift nations out of poverty.' Those who have bought into this story line then condemn those who attend protest rallies, for what do they want - to keep poor nations mired in poverty, running inefficient industries producing nothing but shoddy goods, always unable to become integrated into the global economy. Those who perpetually make these criticisms are either politically unconscious or are being willfully blind (or at the very worst, are deliberately deceitful, but most people don't operate that way, with the exception of handful of sociopaths, so one must assume that they are operating unconsciously, their minds interpreting the world through the neo-liberal free trading framing narrative, which causes them to simply dispose of inconvenient facts, while viewing the world using tunnel vision).
What is even more ridiculous, completely irrational, is that the logic of 'neo-liberal restructuring' and 'free trade' destroys the base of the economy in these nations. Now those who have been captured by this framing narrative will acknowledge that, yes, these countries in South America and Africa have been ruined, but then they insist, following the framing narrative, that this 'required', it is a 'painful adjustment', a kind of religious 'penance' these countries must do as a form of righteous punishment for their past sins of protectionism when they were not following the true religion of free marketeering. Their framing narrative renders them blind to the inconvenient truth, which is that protectionism and tariffs is what grows economies, not free trade, which historically has always favored those nations whose industries have advanced to the point that they are now stuck with over supply of goods while at the same time destroying nascent industries in less developed countries. Actually, it could not work out any other way, for if the industries in these less developed countries were allowed to prosper there would be no dumping ground for the surplus goods of the free trading nations. So then we can see that the destruction of the economies of these less developed nations is not 'a painful, but necessary adjustment' but rather a permanent state of affairs. And what is most ridiculous, is that by destroying industries and the economic base of these nations, they become much less attractive targets for exports. When you follow the free trade agenda through to its logical conclusion, the result is a serious depression first in the target nations such as Africa or Latin America, followed after a time, by a delayed depression in the free trading advanced nations. Once again, this process is predictable, and the only one who could miss it would be the person whose mind has been snared by the falsehoods and consequent blindness of the deceitful free trading framing narrative, which has become the official story line to explain the activity of the IMF and such upcoming trade deals as CAFTA.
Framing the CAFTA agreementCurrently the world, and the American economy in particular, is in the process of fighting off another great Depression. Now a Great Depression is a form of deflation. Currently Japan has been fighting a losing battle with deflation for over a decade. The German economy is sliding, with growth rates currently stagnant at 0 per cent, which means that the German economy is battling against the slide into deflation as well. The German government is currently doing all the wrong things in the fight against deflation. They are slashing income support for the poor, as just one example, slashing government spending, none of which targets their problem, which is an over supply of goods and gross income inequality.
In the United States, there is also a backlog of unsold goods. The problem of oversupply has been building in the American economy for decades, and 'neo-liberalism' and 'free trade' only provided a short term solution. As I noted above, by destroying the economies of the targeted nations, they provide no more relief, as the base of their economies is destroyed, and they no longer provide relief by being temporary dumping grounds for exported surplus American commodities. A large swath of American industries are only running at 70 per cent of capacity, with no plans to use the 30 per cent slack, since ware houses are still full of surplus unsold goods. Interest rates are as low as they are going to get. The American economy is currently battling off deflation by living on borrowed time in the form of huge injections of borrowed cash. Income inequality has soared since the Reagan years, and is now equal to the type of income inequality that existed in the late 1920s, just before the depression, and now the Bush administration is giving even bigger tax cuts to the rich, making the income inequality problem even worse, which is exactly the opposite thing you want to be doing when an economy is sliding towards deflation and depression (but don't bother trying to tell them that - their narrow minded dogmatism fueled by their framing narrative is to strong to allow them to see inconvenient facts until it is much to late). More jobs have been permanently lost in the so called 'jobless recovery' since at any time since the Hoover administration back in the days of the previous depression. A huge stock market bubble which is completely unrelated to the fundamentals of the underlying economy is now in place, just like in the late twenties. Much of the recent economic activity has been fueled by borrowed money, and consumers are heavily in debt, just like in the late twenties.
Now the hopes of getting the American economy out of its inevitable disaster (of to much growth, to much over production, to many goods chasing to few dollars, to much income inequality) by lowering the American dollar to fuel exports (the latest thing they are trying) cannot work long term, since such a policy really hurts Japan, which has been trying to fight deflation by lowering the yen. The low dollar policy also hurts Germany which is sliding close to deflation, and will drag the rest of Europe down with them, just as Japan will drag down the Asian economies (and Japan is in much worse shape than Germany). The pattern here is similar to what has gone before, with short term strategies such as 'neo-liberalism' and 'free trade' keeping the American economy from collapsing under the weight of its growth, its own over supply of goods, only to undermine the targeted economies by ruining the base of those economies, and thus leaving them no longer attractive markets for the over supply of American products. The same thing will happen by using the strategy of lowering the dollar, with the difference being that this time the Americans risk tanking the economies of Europe and Japan (by jacking up American exports and thus hurting Japanese and European producers, thus eroding the base of those economies, while also making imports less attractive, due to the low dollar, further hurting their exporters while helping domestic American competitors).
What we see here is a vicious circle. Once again these things are predictable, but they happen in any case, driven for the most part by the mania for more growth, always more growth, which is fueled by the drive to get really rich, leading to income inequality, with endless growth also leading to over production, deflation, and then the kind of vicious circles of economic collapse, preceded as we have seen by decades of 'neo-liberalism' and 'free trade' all of which only bring temporary relief.
There was an interesting press relief put out by the Federal Reserve, that describes the economic situation using very carefully chosen and cautious language. According to the fed statement, ""business pricing power and increases in core consumer prices remain muted ... the risk of inflation becoming undesirably low remains the predominant concern for the foreseeable future". What they mean here is that business cannot price their goods at a higher rate, and this is due to the over supply of goods sitting unsold in warehouses I mentioned previously, leading to the 30 per cent slack in the economy. The fed then mentions the risk of 'to low inflation.' This translates to the naughty word 'deflation' which is what you get when 'business pricing power' remains 'muted'. So that nasty 'deflation' then becomes 'the predominant concern for the foreseeable future.' The fed statement is a fairly frank description of the true nature of the economy (even if it is carefully worded, substituting such terms as 'muted' and 'to low inflation' for the nasty word 'deflation'). As such, the statement is a much needed antidote to the so called 'growth' being celebrated this week, fueled as it is on temporary borrowed money, and one time injection of one hundred billion dollars into the economy in the form of tax rebates (which will of course have to be made up by even more borrowed money).
Now having said all this, it leaves one wondering how to frame the CAFTA narrative. One of the frequent criticisms of these protest events is that 'it was a confusing mishmash of different messages and agendas' or 'it was unfocused'. It is often the case that organizers of events will attempt to spin doctor this criticism by insisting that what some call 'unfocused' or 'confusing' or the lack of a message is actually a celebration of 'diversity'. However on the other hand, there is no lack of focus of core message, no lack of a defining narrative, on the official side, and given how compelling people find this official free trade 'neo-liberal' framing narrative, this is a serious problem, since I have noticed that people really do think in terms of story, and they really do become blind and oblivious to facts that don't fit the narrative they have accepted as the description of reality (even when the narrative is as hypocritical and deceitful as that neo-liberal free trading framing narrative).
Now above I sketched out what I have attempted to make the most truthful framing narrative to act as a counter agent to the official framing narrative which will be peddled during the CAFTA negotiations. Now one advantage I feel I have is that no politician is going to want to tell the simple truth about CAFTA, which is why politicians will resort to deceitful narratives (perhaps even going so far as to brainwash themselves into believing that false story is true, in much the same way as religious zealots become blind to their own inconsistencies). So therefore, having a truthful framing narrative is a big advantage.
However it does leave a person wondering what a protestor at the CAFTA talks would do with my truthful framing narrative. It is hard to imagine a protestor marching with a sign that read, 'The Great Depression - bring it on.' Because you know, when you protest CAFTA or neo- liberalism in general, in effect, what you are demanding is that the United States and other richer nations hurry up and sink into depression, instead of trying to stall for time by attempting to dump their over supply of goods onto poorer nations, until those countries are undermined and ruined and no longer good export prospects.
Now perhaps you are not consciously aware that when you protest CAFTA you are demanding a speedy Great Depression. You see because of the never ending growth, and the constant tax cuts to rich people, and the growing income inequality, the slashing of programs for poor people, you are heading inevitably towards a crash sooner or later. Think long and hard about these things and you will see that the future can be quite predictable. There will be opponents criticizing those who protest, and ignoring their false frames for a moment, probably unconsciously these people are aware that they are fighting the forces of economic collapse at home. This will be disguised in their criticism of course. They will say such things as 'poor industries deserve to collapse if they can't compete in a free market' and then they will blame the victim because this is their hard penance they have to do for not believing in the true religion in the past. They will call all this destruction 'a painful adjustment' but if you shed that deceitful frame they are using, and look honestly, you will see that what they are really saying is 'I don't want a great depression in my country, export that thing to African or Argentina and let them be in the Great Depression instead.' Which is exactly what happened, and as for those critics, well all they did is bought themselves a little more time.
So, what then is to be done with this framing narrative? No one will be marching in Miami with a sign that says, 'I want a great depression' or 'collapse my economy - I want to live like they do in Argentina'. And you know it is this simple fact of life that might be responsible for the fact that criticism is always made that 'the CAFTA message was confusing and unfocused'. The problem here, which is kept heavily disguised by framing propaganda, is systemic to the free marketing system, and if you stop to reflect on the matter, you will see that it can't do anything else other than what it does, and it does these things over and over again, as history constantly repeats itself. Just as Britain suddenly became fond of 'free trade' and ruined the economies of its colonies in the process in the previous century (leaving a problem of post-colonialism that still has not been fixed) so now America must also ruin countries around the world, and for the very same reason.
So as to what people might choose to do with this frame of CAFTA I will leave up to them for the moment. What I think this demonstrates is that both CAFTA and 'neo-liberalism' and what is referred to as 'corporate globalization' are all just smaller stories which are actually parts of a larger over all narrative. It really isn't possible to counter-act the official CAFTA frame using a partial or fragmented framing story concerning CAFTA, which only focuses on 'what is wrong with CAFTA' in terms of its direct consequences, but which does not place the CAFTA narrative in its larger context (CAFTA can be seen as inevitable and the direct consequence of how people have been running the world - basically it is the direct consequence of the doctrine of 'endless growth' and all the irrationalities and illogic that goes along with it, and that is in the end driven by the greedy desire to get more and more rich, which prevents stability and drives the various ruinous processes I have described above). In the end I hope that by 'framing CAFTA' as I attempted to do above, I will at least have helped people to understand the overall story, which is the most effective way to negate the power of the official CAFTA frame about which we will all be hearing so much in the days and weeks ahead...In the end it really is true that 'another world is possible' and as things just keep getting worse and worse, not only is another world possible, its actually a requirement, it is in fact, the future of the human race at some point in the future, if we are to survive...
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