Okay, I tried a loaded question for round one , and basically got put in my place. So I’m going to try to be much more precise this time and much less convoluted.
I want to see what people think about the possibilities of globalization. Do people think that, despite it’s fixable yet horrible bad sides (sweatshops, environmental abuse, corruption, bad management), can the good aspects overwhelm/fix the bad.
These good aspects, I would say, are:
- The internet. Though not all of the world, or even a majority, is yet connected to the internet, the proliferation of ideas and voices is already significantly higher and more easily accessable than any other time in history. Though not everyone has his or her voice, there are people fighting for them to have a voice who are very visible and very easy to consult (amnesty international, human rights watch, reporters sans frontiers, etc.).
I also would reference the effect that people’s accessibility to varied information, despite repressive governments, is robbing government’s ability to repress people (recent protests in China , Syria, and the youth in Iran ).
One person mentioned, “Sure, this is true, but people can also more easily find the news they want to hear.” Hasn’t that always been the case though? It seems like people have always been able to read only the viewpoints they wanted to, though now there is a much greater access to various points of view for those who want a more contrapuntal view of the news they get.
The mounting number of people who are cognizant of the fact that failed states are hotbeds for terrorism, coupled with the knowledge that the “lift all boats” method of the nineties is not a viable method if the smaller boats are full of holes. (see, Amartya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs, Mike Scheuer)
The growing sentiment that doing business in a corrupt, repressed, unstable country is not good for business (Oil companies in Sudan and Nigeria, for example), because the money lost in fixing problems or having shut down supply lines don’t counterbalance the cheap labor profitability (see Schulz, In Our Own Best Interest)
Jared Diamond’s ideas on the relation between bussiness and the environment in Collapse, which, if I remember correctly, was similar to above: the costs losing resources because of pollution is not worth the money lost. (if someone has the book or has read it, and knows what I’m talking about, could you help me a bit on that one. I no longer have the book)
A flatter world (T. Friedman, obviously). This idea of globalization isn’t “good” so to speak for people in the West, but I think it’s good for the world. Also, I realize that Friedman’s characterization is kind of flowery view of a flat world at times, but just keep in mind that I’m not saying that I think everything’s alright in the places he talks about (for that, just look at Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International). That said, I believe for the most part the world is getting “flat” and that that, by and large, will be a good thing.
For instance, I think the working conditions in most places are horrible, but most of the people who work in these areas would do anything to keep these jobs. Because they have these jobs, they will be better off, and their kids will be better off, and they will in turn help the economy, and so on. Am I wrong? I see trying to make the conditions better as a crucial argument, but not at the expense of saying off-shoring is bad because of the conditions (that argument would probably be Bhagwati’s). Also, I’m aware that that’s an over-simplification. I want to be clear that I think that these are horrible, and I do what I can to both make people aware of these conditions and to make them better. I just think that, in general, the off-shoring of jobs is a good thing.
In contrast to the higher media saturation in the world and faster transmission of images from all parts of the world, some studies show that the wars of the world are actually diminishing. I don’t mean to insinuate that the wars that are still going on are any less significant, or that they will forever diminish. However, like Keynes and Smith said, globalization should be the end of wars, because it will be against the interests of a country to start a war if all countries are linked together. It is important to say also, that this comes also with the assumption that, right now, we are not globalized. We are becoming more and more globalized, but right now it still amounts to developed countries taking advantage of less developed countries, though many developed countries are in Asia and Eastern Europe are changing that. I’m thinking that the more globalized we get, the less possibilty for war there will be.
(The kicker, this is the one that got me in trouble on the last one) This is completely from personal experiance…*It seems to me *that a lot of people are starting to see that the cultures of the world, though they are different, the people who come from them are not that different. It seems to me that whether I’m spending time with Chinese, Iranian, Brazilian, etc. people we don’t have a problem because we are first people, not citizens of a certain nation or a member of a certain culture. Yes, our interaction is on an individual level and it doesn’t change national policy (ostensibly), but individuals who go home and say, “Hey, they’re not that different,” do have a significant effect, I think. Now, more than ever people are able to travel and live in other places far away, that is very important I think.
I realize that some of this might sound idealistic, but that’s why I ask. I’m not that intelligent, but that’s what the SD is for. I’m just trying to present much of what I’ve read and seen myself and see what other people think.
So, what say you? Is there reason to be optomistic (or as Jared Diamond said, “cautiously optomistic”), or are things going to remain unequal and unbalanced? Am I missing something big?
I am a child of the 80s, but I hope that I’m not repeating the same empty optomism that many people say characterized the eighties as far as foreign relations goes.