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Trade deals, Investment Treaties and the Death of Democracy – How companies sue whole nations and win.

This is a talk I gave dealing with Trade Deals such as the TPP and TPIP and the threat posed by them and the Investment Treaties and Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism they contain.

The talk was held in Friends House in Manchester, England and was organized by the Green Party and Equality Northwest.  The talk was absolutely packed. The room was hot and there was standing room only and yet no one left. The day before I had given the talk to a meeting held in Sheffield, organized by the Sheffield Green party.  If my non-scientific evidence is anything to go by, there is a growing discontent and a determination to question mainstream assurances and find new answers.

Trade Deals and the Death of Democracy Part 1

Trade Deals and the Death of Democracy Part 2

Trade Deals and the Death of Democracy Part 3

Trade Deals and the death of Democracy Part 4 ( Democracy and You)





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28 Responses to Trade deals, Investment Treaties and the Death of Democracy – How companies sue whole nations and win.

  1. Phil (Mcr) June 16, 2014 at 9:32 am #


  2. Roger G Lewis June 16, 2014 at 10:25 am #


    This is excellent, tweeted , Google Plus 1+d , Facebooked and sent to contacts. Must try to get this trending on Twitter, I will see what I can do, if all your regulars do the same, I will see if I can automate some sort of traffic driver to get the views rolling.

    Well done.


    • Phil (Mcr) June 16, 2014 at 11:01 am #

      Agreed. The five minute riff on democracy deserves to go viral.

  3. steviefinn June 16, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    A talk like this should be filling stadiums not rooms, but of course that is never the way. The whole thing is a stitch up to benefit corporations & it’s political rent boys, a process that confirms Mussolini’s definition of fascism.

    I understand that fighting the peace is the way forward & is probably a mobilisation that has been lacking in the past due to complacency – It’s also something that would have to be continued after the gangsters are hopefully beaten back as it seems that greed never sleeps. I cannot help feeling that these trough swillers will eventually bring the house down around their heads if not stopped. They certainly don’t seem to be worried about the consequences for everyone else in their lust for their pound of flesh :


    Loved the English revolution bit, it reminded me of some thoughts I had while reading Michael Wood’s ” In search of Shakespeare “. It dawned on me that those people who carried out the horrendous acts of cruelty in those days are still with us, & basically at a distance still do the same. At present it’s mainly done to people who are portrayed as alien but increasingly they are turning the screw on their own populations.

    An incident mentioned in the book near the end of Shakespeare’s life stuck in my head which gave details of the Oxfordshire rising in 1596 which arose out of poverty, hunger etc exacerbated by enclosures :

    “As population levels started to rise in the second half of the sixteenth century, pressure on land for food and work increased, and the enclosure of common land, whether agreed amicably among farmers or enforced illegally by greedy landlords, was seen by distressed groups as the cause of their grief. For much of the period grain prices rose ahead of wool prices and enclosure attracted less political attention. By the 1590s, however, private profit was replacing communal co-operation. Allegations that common lands had been fenced off, villagers denied rights of pasturage and land converted from arable to pasture lay behind events in Oxfordshire in 1596.”

    It’s perhaps not that different than what’s happening today by the same sort of people who were quite happy to torture to death some of the rebels & hang, draw & quarter 3 of the ringleaders:


    We have to try & fight the peace in order to prevent the savagery that will eventually occur if we don’t, because these people know know bounds when it comes to their voracious appetites.

    • Roger G Lewis June 16, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

      An anonymous protest poem from the 17th century summed up the anti-enclosure feeling:
      They hang the man, and flog the woman,
      That steals the goose from off the common;
      But let the greater villain loose,
      That steals the common from the goose.[17]

      “Stop to consider how the so-called owners of the land got hold of it. They simply seized it by force, afterwards hiring lawyers to provide them with title-deeds. In the case of the enclosure of the common lands, which was going on from about 1600 to 1850, the land-grabbers did not even have the excuse of being foreign conquerors; they were quite frankly taking the heritage of their own countrymen, upon no sort of pretext except that they had the power to do so.
      – George Orwell.”

      Nothing New under the Sun Stevie, Same old story of divide , Rule, Exploit.

  4. Syzygy June 17, 2014 at 1:19 am #

    Stunning .. and the information about the make-up of the Tribunals is devastating.

    Your point about the tension in the US was particularly current given the news today that Monsanto is to sue the state of Vermont over its decision to ban GM.

  5. GoinFawr June 17, 2014 at 3:14 am #

    A Modest FIPA Proposal

    Tired of having to go through all the hard work of actually producing a good or performing a service to accumulate your wealth? Or maybe your company’s ‘worth every penny’ CEO wearies of endlessly consulting with democratically elected governments constantly legislating that your profitable but polluting industry be responsible for cleaning up this, and denying it permits to do that?

    Well relax, FIPA has your business model covered. Now what were once egregiously irritating and expensive setbacks at the hands of some godforsaken backwater’s dirt-munching treehugger politician/judge (alleging they’re imposing some ridiculous ‘mandate from the masses’) will become FIPA levers at your disposal. Populist rulings against your company now can be employed to catapult your balance sheet deep into the black later, perhaps even without your labour ever having to turn a shovel! Play your cards right and to make your mark you won’t even need employees at all anymore, save a few connected international lawyers and your own good eye for an opportunity.

    Nowadays this is where the big money lies: in proposing grossly environmentally/financially destructive start-ups that you have no real intention of ever bringing to fruition (see, you have a conscience after all! Who knew?). Simply go through the motions, make all the initial calls and then, once the purposefully loathsome plan runs up against the inevitable brick wall of public outrage, as intended, you proceed to make your case before your fine group of friends at the opaque FIPA tribunal, who have been handpicked to ‘hear you out’. True, they are answerable to no other beings on the planet, perhaps excepting those who worship Mammon; just like you! Note: it behooves you to bear in mind their support when you make it to the judges’ side of the table.

    So does it matter that three quarters or more of the affected nation’s population don’t want you to open up shop in their country? Does it matter that they have had populist legal checks in place for decades in order to balance industry with sustainability and responsibility? Heck no! In fact, so long as someone representing them signed a FIPA sometime somewhere at some point, the more the people of the targeted nation are against your repulsive idea the better because in turn that means that in all likelihood there will be vast reams of regulations and legalities making it ever so difficult for your company to turn an unmitigated profit at the expense of everyone and everything else.

    So let it be 100 percent of the troglodyte homunculi against you! Be bold: design your business plan to target the destruction of a sensitive ecosystem of some endangered frou-frou that is protected by their precious constitution. In fact, the more outrageously horrific the damage to be caused by your ruse the better. It may seem counter-intuitive, but greater public resistance will actually serve to increase your bottom line thanks to your colleagues at FIPA’s unelected, unaccountable, and otherwise inscrutable tribunals.

    How? Because, damnit, you could have made that money, if only that population of self interested citizenry had allowed you to externalize enough of the costs for you to easily extract the wealth you so richly deserve. Really, it’s their own fault for electing representatives that refuse to recognize just how far beyond regulation you really are, and for such insolent transgressions you and your FIPA friends are entitled to hold their entire economy hostage until the selfish population pays you whatever amount it is you feel they owe you.

    You can’t lose, but you can’t win if you don’t play.

    Don’t believe me my skeevy-hearted, avaricious little friend? Such opportunities sound too good to be true to such a high personage as yourself in possession of an indubitably superior business acumen? Well, quit being so cynical; get off your spotty behind and start pretending like you’re actually trying to do something. If it doesn’t pay out the first time, fine; try and try again. Indeud, if your team is slick enough all you will ever really risk is the legal fees, and the return on a single tribunal ruling in your favour could cover such costs for a lifetime of litigation. Heck, who knows? You may even end up goading some of your more ignorant, or otherwise pocketed, ‘authorities having jurisdiction’ into accepting the unacceptable, so allowing you to proceed with your unconscionable but immensely profitable enterprise; it’s win-win!

    Eg. Keep your fingers crossed for Infinito Gold

  6. farang June 17, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    And when the worm turns, the term “Null and Void” will be the Twin Tower event of The People.

    All this crap comes crashing down with one well-placed REVOLUTION.

    Nothing written on paper cannot be burned and forgotten like the rubbish of the 1%.

  7. www.trangsucanhkhoa.com June 17, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Right now, their culture is around the world, promulgated by hip-hop.

  8. Phil (Mcr) June 17, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

    GCHQ to pass data to companies to fight cyber spies


    ”cyber spies” of course. And NEVER anyone who might disagree with a given company’s practices.

  9. Phil (Mcr) June 18, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    The PM lauds Magna Carta but his government undermines its greatest legacies


    ”He has presided over the dismantling of civil and now criminal legal aid, the privatisation of the probation service, chaos in the courtrooms, an overcrowding crisis in our prisons, expansion of secret courts, attacks on human rights and restrictions on access to justice for victims and those of limited means.”

    ”The Criminal Justice & Courts Bill represents the coup de grace. A frontal assault on the key legal remedy of judicial review. The cumulative effect of the proposals in this Bill – alongside new fees, cuts in Legal Aid and shorter time limits – is to hobble the principle method by which the administrative court can prevent unlawful conduct by the state in the way it – in all its manifestations – makes decisions.”

  10. Phil (Mcr) June 18, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    TISA – Trades in Services Agreement


    ‘A new report by Public Services International (PSI) warns that governments are planning to take the world on a liberalisation spree on a scale never seen before. According to the report, this massive trade deal will put public healthcare, broadcasting, water, transport and other services at risk. The proposed deal could make it impossible for future governments to restore public services to public control, even in cases where private service delivery has failed. It would also restrict a government’s ability to regulate key sectors including financial, energy, telecommunications and cross-border data flows.

  11. bill40 June 19, 2014 at 6:57 am #

    Now here be a foine ‘ting Ted….

    Quinn family sues State for €4.5 billion ‘illegal’ loss of business empire

    Family of former billionaire is suing the Central Bank, Minister for Finance and 10 former Anglo directors…. Continues… The family, according to a statement of claim delivered yesterday, is suing the Central Bank and the Minister for Finance as well as 10 former directors of Anglo. It is expected that these claims will be vigorously defended.

    The family is not suing former Anglo chairman Seán FitzPatrick, or the bank’s former chief executive, David Drumm.

    I wonder who will end up paying that the former directors or the central bank? He will win because it would set a very nice precedent.

    Great speech Golem but events were probably overtaking you as you spoke.

  12. steviefinn June 20, 2014 at 6:57 pm #


    The program reports:

    The pro-transparency group WikiLeaks has released the secret draft text for the Trade in Services Agreement, TISA, a trade agreement covering 50 countries and more than 68 percent of world trade in service. Until now, the draft has been classified to keep it clandestine not only during the negotiations but also for five years post-enactment. … The draft Financial Services Annex would also establish rules favorable to the expansion of financial multinationals into other nations by preventing regulatory obstacles. The draft text comes from the April 2014 negotiation round.

    When asked by host Juan Gonzalez what Wallach found most objectionable about the plan, she responded:

    Well, the single most glaring and easy-to-understand piece of it, if you want to—if viewers want to take a look at it, is a provision that’s literally called “standstill.” And what it means is you have to have your regulations stand still as to where they were. And practically, it means—let’s say you want to ban a certain kind of derivative that gets created, and it’s a disaster—it causes speculation and instability. You’re forbidden from having new financial regulations. But the tricky part about this is, if you look at the way the different versions of that provision are written, it may require countries to stand still relative to where they were when the WTO services agreement was established in the 1990s, and that would mean all of these new regulations that were put into effect after the global financial crisis would automatically be violations. So the way the language is written, maybe it’s standstill from 1994. And if that’s the case, it would automatically reverse—would make trade violations out of—wouldn’t automatically reverse, would make trade violations out of all of these new re-regulations. Certainly it would not allow you to do anything new, going forward. But the way the different versions of the text are written, I think it refers back to the old commitments from the ‘90s, and that’s where you’re frozen. That’s perhaps the most pernicious.


  13. Phil (Mcr) June 25, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    Meanwhile, the Rich Man’s Law find Mrs R Brooks not-guilty despite this little admisstion:


    The FT looks at her defence counsel:


    ”Ms Brooks’ chief advocate in the courtroom was leading British barrister Jonathan Laidlaw QC, a former senior Treasury counsel.

    Mr Laidlaw has acted for the Football Association in the Hillsborough inquests, prosecuted terror cases and represented the Metropolitan Police in the High Court hearings over David Miranda, the partner of a Guardian journalist, who was detained at Heathrow airport carrying “sensitive secrets”.

    The barrister has advised government departments and intelligence agencies and is one of the few counsel to enjoy special security clearance.”

  14. bill40 June 28, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    Great read here by a member of the 0.01% club warning the pitchforks are coming. Hope you have time to read and all the best to David hope things are going as well as can be expected for you. I really recommend this.


    • yulva June 30, 2014 at 2:40 am #

      via theburningplatform…all quotes…

      “I bought a few shirts, a few pair of pants and the rest of my money I socked away into savings…”

      My wife and I had a rather long discussion about this article last night over wine. We like to spend at least one night a week where we both dress nicely for each other, prepare some of our favorite things to eat and discuss our life, the world, and whatever else comes up like we did when we first met.

      My take on this was that Nick Hanauer was whistling past the graveyard. Clearly- to me at least- he demonstrates an understanding of the simmering boil out there below his Gulfstream. His arrogance and hubris was an artifact of his environment, rather than the opposite. Why he was unable, in an open letter that he must have known would receive wide reception, to tell the truth was not because he was seeking to deceive others, but rather himself. His appeal for a $15 per hour minimum wage when the pay rates for his own company top out at $14 per hour demonstrates that he doesn’t actually believe in anything he has to say, but rather that he feels it is what he must say- to protect himself should things go bad, to make himself appear to be what he is not, for whatever reason that truly motivates him, but not for any of the ones he gives. If he actually believed his own rhetoric, what would prevent him from offering his entry level employees the $15 per hour he promotes rather than the $9 he actually offers? His deception isn’t one of commission as much as it is one of omission.

      When he tells us about his modest purchases of slacks and shirts, what he leaves out is his gargantuan purchases of political influence. He leads us to believe that he doesn’t really even have a plan for his massive wealth- a savings account? Really? For what exactly, future purchases of Dockers? If easing the financial situation of workers is his raison d’etre, what prevents him from giving 1/10 of his savings account to his 2,400 employees, a sum that would be life changing for them, barely noticed by a guy who only has 3 cars for all his billions? He doesn’t for the same reason he lies about the “savings account”- because he doesn’t believe it himself.

      I think he is afraid, deeply, rightly so, that the future built as it has been on such fragile foundations as a feather pillow story line, might not be as secure as it once seemed. He thinks that maybe he can get out in front of the massive social unrest that he sees coming and perhaps buy him a future out in the same way his billions have bought him his shirts and pants in the past.

      Surely he knows that the reason $15 per hour is the new $5 per hour is that endless rounds of quantitative easing and Fed policies of monetization of debt have devalued the dollar. Compounding the problem by throwing more FR’s at it doesn’t solve anything, in fact it only exacerbates the problem. Two years from now we’ll be talking about a $25 per hour minimum wage- that is if there are any jobs left.

      I thought his parting shot to the zillionaires that higher wages for low end workers would be more millions for them was especially telling in light of the original thrust of income equality being a threat from the pitchfork wielding “crazies” as he refers to everyone not a feather pillow plutocrat. The fact that his good buddy and the source of his billions, Jeff Bezos, is building spacecraft and funding his own private NASA is telling in it’s own right. Perhaps he has gleaned some crucial tidbits of information at his annual Bilderberg retreat. I doubt it has anything with making sure the common folk get to ride to the stars, but who knows with these folks.

      My wife doesn’t buy any of it. She believes that this isn’t a personal reflection, but rather a collaboration- a policy piece, so to speak- of a group of ultra wealthy, hyper influential oligarchs that simply tapped Mr Hanauer to deliver the message. Written to “my fellow zillionaires” it reads as if it were directed to an entirely different audience, somewhere far below the rarified atmosphere that “99.9% couldn’t possibly conceive”.

      After the reflection of the past night, I think she may be right.

      In the 4th century, just before the sack of Rome, the reigning oligarchs of that time negotiated payoffs with the Visigoths hoping to forestall the inevitable. Something tells me that in today’s exchange rate it would have translated to roughly $15 per hour.”


    • HomerJS June 30, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      It was a good read. I think some people in the US don’t seem to have taken it too well, but that’s Americans for you. The most important idea around is the one where redistribution of wealth is about a stronger capitalism and nothing to do with fairness. It’s all so simple, if your customers have money to spend then there’s a chance they may buy your product. The more you sell, the more you make. It’s really the basic principle of investing money to make money.

  15. Roger G Lewis June 30, 2014 at 5:22 am #

    nearly 1300 view of Part 1 Davis that very good for a long video of this nature on You Tube keep tweeting Every One and the Video and hence the message will come higher up the Search spiders ( embedding is good as well also linking in popular forums with trackbacks works well )

    Two things have been troubling me. Isis and what the hell is happening in Iraq, and also the blitz of diversionary narratives especially a up tick in Climate Stories , has anyone else noticed that?regardless of ones views on Climate Change why do Rashes of Stories seem to emerge in social media at seemingly random times for no real newsworthy reason? perhaps its just me but is Climate Change one of those bury the news things?

    Some thoughts.
    What can we do as a collective voice as it seems unlikely that a National Strike is a possibility?


    That Isis Thing.


    And The Climate story thing?


    Standout good thing which I found inspiring this past few weeks, Solar Roadways what a great idea, we are installing Photovoltaics at our House this summer


    • Golem XIV July 2, 2014 at 10:12 am #

      Thanks Roger. How are you keeping these days? Sorry I’ve kept such a low profile recently.

      • Roger G Lewis July 3, 2014 at 5:23 am #

        Hi David, I am very well and I am enjoying the Summer and schools hols, Johanna teaches so its great to have us all home. Being a house Husband its nice for the Children and for me to have Johanna here these precious summer months. Just read your latest piece, I’ll be thinking aboiut it for a week or two and probably more Both my Grandfathers were South Wales Coal Miners who went through the General Strike Llewellyn ( Grampy Harrison) was a quiet man but was very involved in the Workingmens clubs association, Lewis F Lewis ( Grampy Lewis) was somewhat more pugnacious and wrote and talked a great deal. I wish I had listened to bath much more closely it seems my Children may be in danger of experiencing their privations of the 1930’s. WHatever happened to never agaiin?
        If you have time to catch up on Skype that will be great do remember that I am on call to come over and help with Canvassing come the election and happy to do any tedious Admin to help take the weight off David.
        WIth love from the Band of Vikings here in Sweden.

        • Golem XIV July 3, 2014 at 11:33 am #

          I think we all wish we’d listened more. Stay well!

  16. Oliver R. August 27, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    Genious !!!

  17. Roger G Lewis October 6, 2014 at 6:49 am #

    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29482892 today on bbc web site.
    Officials from the United States and the European Union say they have made progress as they seek to sweep away trade barriers.

    Teams from the two sides have held a week of discussions in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

    If successful an agreement would create the world’s biggest free trade zone.

    The chief US negotiator Dan Mullaney said the ultimate goal is to “create opportunities for job creating trade and investment”.

    In a world full of fear. Do not fear this. FIGHT IT! It spells the end of democracy and stakeholder oversight. Its a back door to a final solution of corporate fascism and the end of civil liberties as we think we know them. I repeat do not fear this. Fight It. Tooth and nail.


  1. Trade deals, Investment Treaties and the Death ... - July 15, 2014

    […] This is a talk I gave dealing with Trade Deals such as the TPP and TPIP and the threat posed by them and the Investment Treaties and Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism they contain. The talk was held in Friends House in Manchester, England and was organized by the Green Party and Equality Northwest. The …  […]

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