Globalization vs...well, what? Inventing New Terms

I’m tired of the media splitting the debate about globalization into pro and anti factions. Are really all persons protesting against the World Economic Forum against “globalization”? Even if I’ve never actively participated in any demonstrations, let’s take myself as an example. I’m as left as you get in the political spectrum for self-employed entrepreneurs. I believe that the following have negative long term effects:

  1. Taking advantage of more lax foreign labor laws

  2. Taking advantage of more lax foreign environmental regulations

  3. Allowing corporations to avoid taxation by freely moving funds across borders
    Aha! So clearly I’m against globalization. I clearly, ladies and gentlemen, belong to the anti-globalization movement! I would beg to differ.

I’m all for globalization. That is, if you can be for something that can be stopped, that can’t be avoided except by reversing every technological achievement of the last 500 years. Being against globalization is a little like being against pushing wheat in a cart at the time the wheel was invented. Or, for that matter, against rain fall in spring. Globalization is a natural consequence of the human desire to perfect its society through communication and exchange of resources.

My opinion is that corporate interests that lack a value system acknowledging their societal obligations are taking advantage of global deregulations to increase their shareholder value. These interests don’t have a social agenda. Irresponsible corporations are profiting short-term from an economic globalization that isn’t accompanied by global legislative measures.

Aha! Legislative measure. Obviously I’m a card toting member of the labor union. No, I never was and probably never will be. Anyway, I’m obviously against globalization. Again, no no no. In a world were economic, environmental and political effects propagate at the speed of sub-atomic particles, we’re left with no choice but…well…responsibly transcend the nation state. What I’m saying is that we need to make the first steps towards truly globalizing the Rule of Law to make sure that the guy in Cairo can have a say about what the guy in Sudan dumps into Lake Nubia.

It not about anti-globalization. It’s about extending civil society across borders. The conflict should be called something else. What I don’t know. But not Globalization vs. Anti-Globalization…

Welcome to the SDMB, ethnicallynot. I’m with you on this and I think you would enjoy some of the articles in a special issue that The American Prospect on globalization, especially the short intro by Robert Kuttner and the articles by Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz (both Nobel Prize winning economists):

From Kuttner’s intro:

Globalization has been with us since the sixteenth century. What we’re against is an ideology that lifts trade to the supreme level and guiding force of society and subordinates other conceptions of the public good.

You could argue globalization started X thousand years back when hunter gatherer Clan A, with lots of bearskins but a shortage of flint arrowheads, came across Clan B, who had lots of arrow heads but were feeling the cold, and their respective valleys became a free trade area.

You only have to look at anti-globalization protests to see what an incoherent “movement” it is. US steel workers turn up because they’re against cheap foreign steel - they don’t care about the Amazon rain forest, or the purity of French cuisine, or the evils of capitalism.

I’m against environmental degradation, but I’m all in favor of companies making goods in the 3rd world for sale in rich countries - the Nike employees in Indonesia, the consumer in the US, and the Nike shareholders all win. Provided they keep the process clean and fair, no problem.

The thing people should really be fighting for is proper, full globalization. At the moment, rich countries keep out poorer countries’ agricultural and textile products to protect their local producers. They could alleviate 3rd world poverty and help their consumers and taxpayers if they cared less about their farmers and clothing factories. The European Union is a major offendor (and hypocrite) in this respect. The charity Oxfam recently hit out at them for this.

Bingo, ethnicallynot, although keep in mind that some of the more hardcore anti-globalization types really are against it, and also that it can be reversed… the world was highly globalized until the early part of the 20th century, and some have argued that we’re merely going back to where we were.

(Of course, 18th and 19th century laissez-faire capitalism had it’s problems…)

Still, I rather like what Krugman said about the whole thing, which was that the biggest threat is not globalization itself but those who push various vacuous economic programs through based on nothing but “our country needs to compete with the rest of the world!” Well, says Krugman, trade doesn’t quite work that way; you benefit or are punished generally on the productivity of your economy, not on whether or not a country can “compete”. States don’t compete; individuals and firms do, and states already involve themselves too much in that. (go corporate welfare!)

Maybe it comes back to that relatively old question… if corporations have the rights of persons, should they have the responsibilities as well? Should they have additional restrictions due to their incorporeality? Which is necessary for a just and prosporous society, and if prosperity and justice conflict, which comes ahead? “Pro-globalization” types argue for prosperity: “lifting all boats”. “Anti-globalization” types argue for justice: “no one left behind”. These are pretty fundamental questions, and it’s sort of sad that the debate is so bloody superficial much of the time.

How coherent does the argument need to be? There is a wide variety of people who, for different reasons, don’t like the current “Globalization” trend. All of the reasons have their own value, and they’re not doing a whole lot to slow anything down.

My big problem with it is that it sets a mode for economies that makes it very difficult to break out of or in which adjustments can be made. If you decide you’re in, your economy is set into industrial, agrarian or service mode for however long. The US got a dandy deal out of this, protecting all three sectors, while others will…

Never mind, that’s not the point of this thread.

I’ll reiterate; Does it make any difference that the Againsts are not united? They are not invited to the discussions in the first place.

…bad grammar…

(…makes it difficult to break out of or make adjustments while in the system…)

gotta preview…

kuroashi: I’d argue that they do have some influence, even if it is indirect. Besides, you’re putting the cart before the horse: are they disorganized because they have no influence, or do they have no influence because they’re disorganized? It’s not like organized pressure groups can’t affect policy.

(Then again, since the kind of hierarchy that’s necessary to be effective is against the same Anarchist ideology that most of the really hardcore anti-globalization types believe in…)

Demos, I may have watched one too many X-Files episodes.I can’t point to any conspiracy, but I’d be surprised if there weren’t one that is keeping them disorganized.

IF they were organized, IF there were some sort of roundtable and common interests were formulated (namely restructuring of WTO), where would they go? The only outlet they have is creating their own public policy apparatus through the media, and hopefully getting the support of some policy makers. (I’m sure I’m just undereducated on this, but does it seem to anybody else that WTO affairs have been dealt with much more by the Executive than Legislative organs?).

So, can organized pressure groups affect policy? Some would say that the only way a pressure group can affect policy is through violence and total beligerance toward the hierarchy, as you alluded to. I’m not saying I think that’s necessary, I don’t know enough to be able to say that. But the matter of Points of Access is something that needs to be addressed by any coalition that might evolve.

As ethicallynot so dastardly well points out in the thread title and the OP I believe that the problem we’re facing here is alternative forms of globalization, not so much how the absolute opposition to globalization should come to the table. Their protest is being delivered quite distinctly in a rather vociferous and sometimes IMO a little too brutal fashion. What is more troubling is that in the mainstream political environment the flavor of globalization being not only discussed, but slowly implemented is hardly debated. The debate is always held at a detail level regarding, national debt, time tables, the order of abolition of tariffs and what-not. Although I am quite a bit more liberal in my view of what we need to see than what is stated in the OP, I agree that certain issues are definitely not getting enough attention.

The WTO and member states are driving the discussion in a fashion that is very corporate and finance oriented while as the human issues such as environment, human rights, freedom of movement etc. etc. are hardly getting enough attention. Somewhere I fear that the whole issue is so huge and so far away from us the general public that we will loose out on some of the best potential benefits that globalization could bring about, such as increased freedom, a narrower divide in the standard of living and a safer world to live in. The risk is that we end up opening up the world to the markets while the markets remain isolated islands on this market.

OTOH many of these ‘soft’ benefits are outspoken goals to be achieved long term and the current path might well be the way things like this need to evolve. The EU sure as hellfire wouldn’t have been possible without going through the steps of first an inner market, then EMU and then the full implementation of Maastricht and the other treaties. Only now that the machinery is almost running are we able to start dealing with what to do to include and help our less fortunate neighbors in the East.

Look, matt_mcl what is trade? Trade is an exchange. The whole universe is about exchange. Without exchange, everyone would have to do the quantum Medusa trick to be aware of even their own belly. If you can’t make any sense of that analogy, go to I realize that you’re talking about the more complex philosophy embedded in the culture surrounding “free trade”. And it would be a tad over-reductionstic of me to claim that the Universe is just about exchange. Trade is of course a means to an end. However, that goes for both individuals and corporations. I don’t think the goal of any successful multi-national is simply the exchange of goods. All organizations, all systems, seek to exert control over their environment to secure their continued existence. Again, this goes for you matt_mcl as well as Microsoft.

My issue isn’t yours. I can therefore not accept the term WE in the above quote. This is again a problem of the forces described by media as the “anti-globalization movement”. Each faction attempts to hijack the opposition to WTO and World Economic Forum for their own agenda. Shortly after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, I went to a peace demonstration at Times Square. But I was dismayed by feminists speaking of “imperialist governments” and civil rights people holding up signs against domestic police brutality. What did this have to do with the blunderous war tactics of the current US Administration? (And by the way, no I’m not pro-Taliban. So please refrain from picking up on that 'cause that ain’t what this thread is about!!!) . The same digressions occurs continuously in the opposition to the WTO. My guess is that there’s no unity in the predominantly left-wing opposition to WTO because it isn’t a group at all! Hemlock states:

What I would like to see is an alternative opposition that speaks in favor of political globalization and focuses on the issues at hand without walking around waving red flags with a the Linux penguin on it.

Demosthenesian, could you substantiate what you mean by that?

Sparc has a point of course, but I don’t think I’m constructing after the fact that there was from the very beginning a vision of European political unity. Europe was rapidly loosing its hold on world politics after the WW II. And loss of influence can bring together some of the most estranged people. Need I say Germany and France? I firmly believe that there was a sense that each member state needed to relinquish some sovereignty to become competitive in a cold-war climate were they were being nut-crackered by two super powers.

This is a very relevant point kuroashi. Unfortunately, as I said above, I doubt there can be a coalition since this isn’t a group at all. My attempt here is to come up with a powerful term that could unify a hidden group of people who believe in global political unity, in a unity that safeguards humanity against the negative long-term effects of thinking only in terms of what benefits the next fiscal year’s shareholder value. Language is a powerful weapon and it’s being yielded against such forces by encouraging the term “anti-globalization”.

What all these different groups have in common is a feeling of alienation from the current regime, which lacks legitimacy and accountability. There is a widespread feeling that the powers-that-be reflect corporate interests and not the interests of the people.

I have never heard anyone make arguments against globalization, except for maybe some protectionist Buchanan followers. Most “globaphobes” are actually globalists - they are fighting for universal standards when it comes to things like human rights. The “globaphiles” have set up a straw man, because it is easier to argue that globalization is inevitable, it’s already here, etc. than to argue against the very legitimate argument that the rules of the game are inherently unfair and need to be changed. This rhetorical strategy has given them the advantage in the debate. I recommend the new report from Oxfam (here) that does a good job of articulating the case against “globalization.”

Paaease, chula could you perhaps polarize the issue a bit more? But, assuming you agree what you state they are for (which it seems), you simply belong to a long line of polemics thinking in simplistic binary terms. The haves vs. the have nots, the righteous vs. the unrighteous, the believers vs. the unblievers. Need I go on?

I stop reading this Oxfam after about thirty seconds because I’ve seen and read the spiel before. It all stinks of conspiracy theory. Oh, isn’t it exciting to think that CIA and the rich are behind it all? It also makes understanding the problem so much easier, doesn’t it?

Yes, the opposition to the WTO tends to agree that spreading wealth is a good thing. What they don’t agree on is why or how it should be done. You seems (at least at first glance) to belong to those that believe there’s something unrighteous about not doing it in some moralistic judeo-christian sense (note: I’m not claiming you are of these faits, just that your outlook is derived from them).

I simply think it’s stupid and a sign of myopia not to. I have a son and like most animals I want to see my fellow members of the species survive over the next few centuries or millenia. Don’t ask me why, that’s just the way it is…(if you should ask me why, hold on, 'cause I’m sure to start a thread about that soon :)) ).

Anyway, if you don’t know what binary is, it doesn’t surprise me. And if you’re answer is simply “a system with zeros and ones”, I’m not surprised either…

You’re the reason (again assuming you agree with your explanation about what they are for) I don’t go to most anti-globalization demonstrations. Am I alone here? I doubt it and that’s why I started this thread.