We are now entering our second interview and this time we have chosen a topic that most of our audience has probably not heard of, but surely lives it in some way because it has to do with what happens in our lives and it is a topic that we want to address precisely for that reason, because it is not in the public debate. It would seem to be a subject for specialists, it would seem to be a very complicated subject, and it is not so complicated in terms of understanding it, it is very complicated in terms of its consequences and that is why we have with us Javier Tolcachier, who we haven’t had on our programme for some time now.
Hello Javier, welcome to Continentes y Contenidos.
Hello Nelsy, hello friends. Good morning, good afternoon to all the audiences wherever you are.
It’s great to have you with us. And almost Javier, this interview is going to be like a little class, okay, because what we are interested in is that our audience understands the issue. That we all understand the issue, how it works and its consequences. In English it’s called Multistakeholders. Strange name. It took me several months to pronounce this name, what exactly is it, what does it mean? What is the definition? Javier, let’s start there.
Well, Multistakeholder is a participation scheme, at least theoretical participation that was generated from the year 2000 onwards. Let’s say that in Spanish it translates as multisectoralism or multi-stakeholder system, that is, it is what was initially imagined as the possibility of broadening participation in global governance issues. Let’s say, what is normally the responsibility of states, broadening that participation to other types of stakeholder organisations. Initially, civil society organisations, movements enthusiastically embraced this possibility because it allowed them to cooperate in some way, to influence, to contribute to these issues that were normally the exclusive domain of states in the UN system. What has happened, however, is that this multi-stakeholder has become a multi take holding. This is a new word, i.e., a “take all” because instead of grassroots organisations having a real impact, companies and corporations began to co-opt the system and with their buying power, with their economic power, with their foundations, with their NGOs, let’s say in their pay, they have distorted this possibility and have become dominant factors in global governance. This may sound like a conspiracy, but it is what is happening and it is well documented. I don’t know if the explanation has been clear.
Yes, Javier, let’s say in English it’s not one word, it’s three: multi-stakeholder. We don’t have a single word to define this model, let’s say this trend, and indeed, as you say, it was originally very interesting, because it was indeed a possibility to work in an articulated way, to influence the governance of the planet from the United Nations. However, that is not how you explained it, let’s say that the trend always wins in some way, it is like the capitalist model, because in the end the issue of multiple stakeholders ends up being functional to the economic model and to capitalism. Is that the way it is or not? Or at least that’s what I interpret that it ends up being functional. Is it so, is it not so, why?
It is like this, and this is like the casino, the banks always win. Unless the people decide that this should not happen and it is indeed so, because the World Economic Forum that took place in Davos has taken this issue of multiple stakeholders, and has coined a term that is multi-stakeholder capitalism. With this it promotes capitalist reconversion, placing a friendly wrapper, a propaganda wrapper, related to the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 agenda, that is, if one looks at it from afar, these people, these businessmen, these undemocratic de facto economic powers, not elected by anyone, want to take charge of global governance, of everything that has to do with the climate crisis, education, health gaps…. In other words, everything that they themselves have generated, because this is a continuity of the neoliberal model of the 1980s and 1990s, which has been reformatted, with some new words and including issues that were at the time related to corporate social responsibility, which is usually much closer to social irresponsibility. So, this is a continuity of this scheme that companies, corporations theoretically, according to the World Economic Forum, are the ones qualified to take charge of society because of their supposed efficiency; which in reality, it must be said again, is absolute inefficiency because of the amount of hunger there is, because of the amount of poor people there are. In short, because of all the mess that they themselves have generated. So to these so-called stakeholders we should add a corollary, to these stakeholders interested in their own profit.
How can these stakeholders in the profits of their companies, who are also accountable to their shareholders for those profits, how can these kinds of organisations be entrusted with safeguarding the common good? It is totally illogical, undemocratic, nobody knows them, nobody voted for them.
Moreover, this has the effect of weakening the already fragile states, many of them our very fragile states and the many states, because this narrative of “private is always better than public”, “private actors do better than public actors”, whatever, and it is also like taking away from the state the fundamental obligation of guaranteeing all opportunities for all its citizens. There is a weakening of states, particularly in this multilateral space. I don’t know how you think about it.
Yes, it is indeed, as I said before, a prolongation of the neoliberal model under the roof of a supposed public-private partnership that in reality is made up of very dissimilar parts. In other words, in a society it is clear that there has to be a certain parity between the components so that some do not decide over the others. Imagine that Google, Amazon or Facebook arrive in a country in Africa, whose state budget is perhaps a tenth or a hundredth of what these companies represent, and then they offer them, for example, in the field of education, a series of educational packages and on top of that they give them a discount or give them free for a certain period of time, so that afterwards the states buy the premium version. Furthermore, they want the states to install their own closed technology model, i.e., one that is impenetrable to others. And on top of this technological model, they sell other products because the state in question has become captive to this technological logic, adding to this afterwards that the state, in many cases, will surely go into debt, because it is pressured by the issue of the infrastructure and connectivity gap.
This means that the state has to take charge of the company, through universal connectivity, which obviously has a positive side, to be able to do business with the entire population. So, the state is left in debt, the companies do their business and a pro-business technology model is installed with a market logic that afterwards is not going to favour any of the things it promises.
An example of this is education. There is a material called “The Future of Education”, which is, let’s say, currently promoted by UNESCO, whose function is to think about the education of the future. Of course, for these people, much of this has nothing to do with repairing the great educational problems of our societies, which have to do with pedagogy, the conception of the human being, inequalities in society itself, but simply with connecting to the network. Moreover, in this World Economic Forum, a few days ago, a virtual reality learning model was promoted, that is to say, with this metaverse promoted by several companies, not only Meta. In these virtual learning places, the aim is for children to enter and see educational kiosks set up by them, where they are going to be told how to make their lives work, how to be one more sausage, let’s say, or one more canned anchovy in the market and work model that they want.
In other words, it’s all a lie, it’s all propaganda, trying to save capitalism, to find new business niches and once again subjugate the majority of the population.
In this scenario, Javier, what are the prospects? Because the way we see it, if you are painting it and ratifying it, one says “there is nothing to do here, let’s just relax and let what has to happen, happen”, but we know that it is not like that. We are not that, so what are the prospects.
Well, let’s just say that in order not to get into a situation like this. Let’s say that in order not to enter into a technocratic logic, that is to say, of recipes made up of ready-made recipes, we must first disappoint the public and disappoint ourselves by saying that there are no ready-made recipes precisely because of the great dynamics of this sector.
In the technology and corporate sector there are a lot of tricks they have to avoid taxes, to undermine laws, to overturn governments, in short. In this scenario, the only useful recipe is participation, so that democracy can exist, so that technologies can be democratised, so that corporate power cannot advance in matters that concern us all, what we all have to do is act in these matters. Participate politically, socially, culturally, as each of us sees fit, even spiritually, to counteract this trend that is degrading to human dignity. Degrading to the enormous potential of peoples. And of course, we must, for example, in the field of technology, we must discard these corporate technologies, even if they seem comfortable, we must use free tools that are just as good as the others, with the difference that nobody spies on you, nobody watches you, we must investigate these issues a little more, understand how they impact on your own life. Because that’s the essential thing, when you understand that this affects you personally. Like for example the tendency of big corporations to hire young people in developing countries who are much cheaper than programmers in northern countries. Well, it affects the labour market, all the people who are now riding around on motorbikes or bicycles or even on foot handing out bags of food. This is a model that they came up with. Without any kind of social security, so this affects us directly and that’s why we have to take matters into our own hands, become digitally literate, understand how this nefarious model works and unite. Organise ourselves and support those movements, those organisations that promote, let’s say, sovereign and fair technological development.
A small corollary. We are currently promoting an initiative called Internet Ciudadana, related to the Foro de Comunicación para la Integración de Nuestra América, which is precisely trying to investigate, in contact with other similar initiatives in the global south, strategies to stop this hegemony or supposed hegemony of the corporations in the global sphere in order to develop strategies which, from the community, from the social sphere, are doing their part to put pressure on states, on governments, to establish laws that do not allow corporate impunity.