Globalization Readings

In Making A Killing The myth of capital’s good intentions, Ted C. Fishman argues that despite the rhetoric offered by global capitalists that terrorism is defeated by free-trade and economic liberalization, these forces actually contribute to a world of violence and fragmentation.  This picture becomes clear when one considers those that global capitalism has left behind.  Fishman notes that “Half the planet lives on less than two dollars a day, a billion people on half of that.  For them, globalization has meant little in terms of real income gain.”

According to Fishman, these global poor represent an opportunity to profit by “enterprising warlords”.  The conflicts in Sudan, the DRC and Liberia and millions of lives lost  represent the opportunity to cash in on global markets, at the expense of the global poor.

Free economic competition also has a dark side that can be seen in the small arms market.  The US, UK, France and Russia export 83% of the worlds weapons.  Saudi Arabia, the worlds biggest exporter of oil, is the biggest importer of weapons.  There are approximately 640 million small arms on the planet.

Open markets create opportunities for corrupt governments and corporations to hide their illegal activities.  The opportunity to launder money perpetuates the drug industry, facilitates weapons trade and allow groups like Al-Qaeda to finance their operations under the radar.  Fishman argues with global capitalism there is no incentive to crack down on the corruption of these activities:

Companies that lose opportunities to extract oil, minerals, or timber cheaply don’t face mere lost profits they face competitors who will destroy them, banking and financial centers that service worldwide capital markets resist punishing companies that patronize tyrants; they fear frightening off businesses that prefer to shop for financing where executive decisions won’t be judged. Thats the genius of capitalism.

While free market capitalism has brought down the price of tennis shoes it has also brought down the price of small weapons, an industry that rewards those who can provide cheap human lives.  As long as these principles underlie global capitalism, economic liberalization, opening markets, privatization will continue to support “a world that profits in its own destruction.”

In Jihad vs. McWorld, Bengamin Barber describes two political futures unfolding in the world as he saw it in 1992.   The first “McWorld” describes the “coming together” of the world through forces of globalization.  The other “Jihad,” Barber uses to describe the “falling apart”  of the world through the forces of “retribalization” and isolation.  Barber argues that neither force is democratic in nature.  In the case of McWorld;

Human rights are needed to a degree, but not citizenship or participation- and no more social justice and equality than are necessary to promote efficient economic production and consumption  Multinational corporations sometimes seem to prefer doing business with local oligarchs, inasmuch as they can take confidence from dealing with the boss on all crucial matters.   Despots who slaughter their own populations are no problem, so long as they leave markets in place and refrain from making war on their neighbors (Saddam Hussein’s fatal mistake).  In trading partners. predictability is of more value than justice.

And while Jihad offers identity, community and solidarity it also;

Guarantees parochialism and is grounded in exclusion.  Solidarity is secured through war against outsiders.  And solidarity often means obedience to a hierarchy in governance, fanaticism in beliefs and the obliteration of individual selves in the name of the group.

In closing Barber argues that democratic civil society can not be established through the imposition of free markets and top-down authority.  That democracy flourishes with bottom-up participation that captures the desire for self-government, participation, accountability and consent.  He suggests that a localized union of economic associations “tied together into regional economic associations and markets larger than nation-states- participatory and self-determinism in local matters at the bottom, representative and accountable at the top” is a desirable alternative to the political futures offered by Jihad and McWorld.

Below is a list of articles that further examine the merits of globalization and free-market capitalism

  1. Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein
  2. It’s a Flat World, After All, Friedman
  3. The Truth about Globalization, Taylor
  4. The moral case for globalization, Martin
  5. A Noose, Not a Bracelet, Klein
  6. Coping with Antiglobalization, Bhagwati
  7. Making a Killing: How Private Armies Became a $120 Billion Global Industry
  8. Naomi Klein on Friedman Economics
  9. Klein on the imposition of a single world market

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