#ThrowbackThursday: On the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Activism, and Hope

Hey kids! Do you feel that the crushing weights of political despair have prematurely ended your crusade to make 2017 a good year? Well, gather around the fire, because I’m going to tell you a story about a time the forces of good claimed victory.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership was a multinational trade agreement that was first conceptualized in 2005. Outgoing president Barack Obama made signing the proclamation a priority of his administration, but as of today, and mostly after the recent presidential election, the deal is basically dead. The United States has basically said they won’t ratify the deal, mostly because of the results of the said election, but also because of the impassioned cries of many activists who have decried the deal since while it was being negotiated. I mean, he suggests we’ll withdraw from the deal on the first day of his presidency. But no matter how much you weigh his influence on the way this deal was scrutinized, the TPP was always a buzzword in the election cycle. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to say that her support of the deal, then criticism of it from all sides followed by a half-hearted withdrawal from it cost Hillary Clinton the presidency. There were probably some voters in Wisconsin who didn’t want the deal to go through.

But… let’s put all of this realpolitik by the wayside for a moment and focus on the part involving us. Ever since said negotiations were going on, Internet activists took aim at the the trade agreement’s copyright provisions. Basically, the people who wrote this trade deal didn’t think very highly of you… the person on the Internet reading this blog post. Among a myriad of stipulations about health care, foreign labor, the ability for corporations to sue governments, and all sorts of low, spooky voodoo, the deal set higher standards for policing the Internet, censorship, and juicing more money out of copyrighted works that should have gone into the public domain by now. Basically, if you remember SOPA, and all of the clout surrounding that set of laws, the corresponding section of the TPP is just gravy on the corporation’s meat pie. And it was negotiated behind closed doors by some people who stood to profit from that shit. Hence why StopTheSecrecy.net got over 3.6 million people to demand answers on the trade agreement. And you know what? It kind of worked. Though the U.S. government did gain fast-track authority to ratify the agreement with a simple veto, movements like that one increased scrutiny of the deal. And here’s where the real fun begins…

And so they got creative. Fight For The Future, a group I have criticized for somehow still believing that the primary purpose of the Internet is to watch videos of cute animals, organized a series of rock concerts to raise awareness for the agreement. Yes, even in the age of… that guy, people can still be creative. And they can be creative when it comes to protesting. I mean, they got a dude from Rage Against The Machine to topline these concerts. You can’t beat that! And this was in the pits of election season, after both parties had nominated their candidates, so these concerts gave people excuses to have fun, rock the fuck out, and stay woke at the same time. No wonder it was basically the final blow to the deal.

Now, the TPP is not totally dead. I must stress that, because there is still a very niche possibility that the new administration could take up the deal, but it would be at the full scrutiny of the guy covered in Dorito dust. In order to pass, either every country involved needs to ratify it, or at least six countries with 85% of the population’s total GDP (the Unites States represents a big enough chunk that their absence alone will probably kill the agreement) need to sign it by February 4, 2018. And I won’t say that humanity won’t be around by then because it totally will, goddamnit! In times like this, no matter where you are on the political spectrum, you need to have more hope. Hope that your party will eventually win the football bowl and earn money for all the poor people in the country! Let the saga of the TPP be not a tale of woe, but a tale of hope for everyone who dares to fight. In an age where people are cynical and fatalistic about the world, we must remember that it is possible to succeed, no matter how stacked the odds are against us.

And yes, that definitely sounds like the moral of a cheesy kids show, but in this instance, it actually happened. Ha.

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