When this article appeared, Richard J. Barnet was a founder and co-director of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. He has taught at Yale and the University of Mexico, and during the Kennedy administration was an adviser in the State Department. He is the author of five books, including The Roots of War, and his articles have appeared in major magazines and newspapers across the country. When this article appeared, he was helping to develop the Transnational Institute, an organization devoted to the problems of world economy and politics.
He has co-authored Global Reach, a study of the power of multinational corporations. Barnet was interviewed by Wes Michaelson and Joe Roos of Sojourners. Barnet attended the Church of the Savior in Washington, D.C., when this article appeared.
Wes: You have maintained that the multinationals, or the transnational corporations, are ahead of the politicians in recognizing the obsolescence of national boundaries and advocating a kind of interdependence. Everybody advocates interdependence, seemingly, these days. But what kind of interdependence is it that they would like to foster?
Richard: They would like to foster an interdependence with the over-riding goal of economic efficiency as they define it. The division of labor is taken to its ultimate degree. You look around the world for those places where labor is cheapest or where you can obtain raw materials at the best price and you integrate that with operations in more advanced places where your market operations might be based. So in effect what you are trying to do is get the benefit of peculiar economic advantages of the developed world and the peculiar advantages of the underdeveloped world--all for the benefit of the over riding goal of the corporation, which is global profit maximization.