Great Cover, Wrong Article

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I was so happy to get my issue of the Economist about a month ago. I had thought the long quality slide that I had seen in that magazine had finally come to an end. From all appearances, they finally had realized that the giant train wreck known as ‘Globalization’* had finally run out of steam, and been left rusting on a beach. It’s hollow promises now being fully exposed to the elements, the natural processes of decay and re-absorption into the natural ecosystem would begin.

Well, the article was a real let down. The Economist (or at least their writers, their art department may be a different story) didn’t have a clue.

The article was about the collapse of the Doha trade negotiations. That was it.

No mention of the repeated protests against Globalization starting at Seattle and continuing relentlessly at all other forums at which the proselytes of the new top-down capitalist world order would chose to congregate. No mention of the explicit rejection of globalization in the elections across South America, in Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador and Venezuela. No acknowledgement of the rejection of the anti-freedom Intellectual Property Regime known as the Directive on the Patentability of Computer Implemented Inventions aka Software Patents in Europe last year. No recognition of the fact that about half of Mexico’s electorate had rejected Globalization, and were going to continue to reject it no matter that they were in the minority. (That should be a really loud WAKE UP CALL) No realization that the recent failure of the ratification of the European Constitution first in Netherlands, then elsewhere in Europe, was a manifestation of a deep-seated rejection of Globalization. No mention that Poland, the poster child for Sachs-style westernization and integration into the Global economy, now has a democratically elected government that is explicitly anti-integrationist, anti-globalization.

Oh, and by the way, where is a mention of the riots in Paris in 2006?

Or the fact that the cheap energy that has kept cotton going to China from Texas to be made into T-Shirts, and then back again to be sold at Wal Marts that Americans get to in their SUV’s, has just come to an end?

And the realization by all except a very few oil-industry lobbyists that even if cheap oil wasn’t coming to an end, the environmental costs of it are just way, way too high? Or the realization by most public health epidemiologists that SARS was just the first of many, and jet travel is just a giant uncontrolled experiment in public health?

No, none of these issues penetrated the skulls of those who wrote this article, although the cover image seems to get off to a good start, and previous articles in the Economist (going back to the late 1980’s) raise every single one of these issues.

Well, in case those who write for the Economist don’t get it, the art department there definitely does get it: Globalization, as we know it, is dead. The realization should have sunk in by now that, although the international network of trading itself will not disappear, its topology would be forced to evolve.  This evolved topology will be so different from what we call ‘globalisation’ today that it will likely be correct to use the term ‘post-globalised’ to describe the world of the near future.

The bottom line is: democratic institutions and globalizing capitalism are incompatible. Furthermore, much of the technologies that have been used to create our globalised economy are very easy to leverage against it.

So, my question is: What’s going to happen when those in power finally understand the nature of the incompatibility of these two world systems?

The model that many seem to be gravitating to is epitomized by Putin’s Russia, or perhaps present day China. It’s a system of cronyism, deep and systemic corruption, and a loss of freedoms.  The present “War on Terror” is the mask that those in the West who would put in place such systems are using.  And few in the West seem to be opposing this regime of ‘guided democracy.’

What’s much worse is that terrorist atrocities play into the hands of the authoritarians, so they have very little incentive to actively take needed steps to protect the public in the West. These steps have been clearly described in several posts at Global Guerillas and this website, and the problem is that they require displacement of the existing power relationships and a transformation of the economic structures.  (See the post The Ghost Map & 5GW : The Answer is Blowing in the Wind)

Updated & slightly expanded 10 & 25 December 2006 (italicized text)

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* by Globalization, I mean narrow Globalization, only meaning the globalization of investor rights, as that is themost  common usage of the term Globalization. I had written this before I had read Noam Chomsky’s excellent point about the usage and mis-usage of the term “Globalization,” to wit:

The term “globalization” has been appropriated by the powerful to refer to a specific form of international economic integration, one based on investor rights, with the interests of people incidental. That is why the business press, in its more honest moments, refers to the “free trade agreements” as “free investment agreements” (Wall St. Journal). Accordingly, advocates of other forms of globalization are described as “anti-globalization”; and some, unfortunately, even accept this term, though it is a term of propaganda that should be dismissed with ridicule. No sane person is opposed to globalization, that is, international integration. Surely not the left and the workers movements, which were founded on the principle of international solidarity – that is, globalization in a form that attends to the rights of people, not private power systems.

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Great Cover, Wrong Article

9 thoughts on “Great Cover, Wrong Article

  1. rick says:

    Putin’s model is one thing. The Poland model is another. Chavez’s Venezuela is still a third thing.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about disappearing liberties in the future — I would worry more about disappearing prosperity.

  2. I wouldn’t worry too much about disappearing liberties in the future — I would worry more about disappearing prosperity.

    Well Rick here’s a quote for you:

    “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security” — Benjamin Franklin

    But the other point about this attitude is that it is factually wrong. Our liberties are essential to our continued prosperity. This is explored in great detail in Amartya Sen’s book Development as Freedom.

  3. rick says:

    IMHO you’re taking Franklin’s quote out of context, but if that was what you were driving at with the original passage, then I’ll explicate my comment. If worrying about your freedoms protects your prosperity, then it’s not worrying “too much.” Thus there is no contradiction and the original comment is compatible with Franklin’s dictum.

    Looking back at the article, it looks like you edited it twice and I can’t find the passage I seem to recall, so I won’t try to figure out what the heck was originally said about Putin’s model, Poland’s model, and Venezuela’s model.

  4. I had thought that you were making the point that we should worry about our disappearring prosperity, not our disappearing freedoms.

    You may think that because either:

    a – you are not worried about our freedoms disappearring or

    b – as a matter of fact, you don’t believe they are actually disappearing.

    I took your position to be “a”, that we should not worry about our freedoms disppearring, and my point was that we should worry, as it is our freedoms that protect our lasting prosperity.

    Now if you don’t believe our freedoms are disappearing, that is a whole different discussion.

  5. rick says:

    I did a lousy job of expressing myself. Obviously Western citizens have fewer personal freedoms now than they did thirty years ago: free speech is increasingly restricted, private ownership of firearms is restricted, etc. It’s too late to worry about these losses, and we shouldn’t pretend that Westerners have a chance to recover these freedoms — in our lifetimes.

    Basically, I think freedoms were great when they did exist … about thirty years ago. The culture of what used to be Western Civilization has nose-dived so far that we’re not really civilized any more. We may have temporary respite from direct oppression, but we’re not civilized persons any more, so we’re effectively enslaved by neo-barbarism.

    When I say we should be more worried about prosperity than “freedoms,” I’m primarily thinking about how the ultra-rich use libertarian rhetoric dishonestly. The ultra-rich call it “freedom” when one percent of the population accumulates 99% of the wealth. That is an example of a society theoretically keeping its “freedoms” but losing the prosperity of 99% of the citizens.

    As a side note, since you use the term “part trzy” for “part three” I’ll assume that you’re familiar with Poland. (I’m just guessing that “trzy” is Polish for “three.”) I’m not very familiar with Poland.

    In the article above you wrote:
    [quote]
    No mention that Poland, the poster child for Sachs-style westernization and integration into the Global economy, now has a democratically elected government that is explicitly anti-integrationist, anti-globalization.
    [/quote]

    I’d like to see you expand on that, possibly in an entirely new post.

    Thanks for staying patient with my limited communication abilities.

  6. “Basically, I think freedoms were great when they did exist … about thirty years ago…”

    Our freedoms have always been in flux. Thet are part of an inherently dynamic system. In the 1950’s there was McCarthyism. Much earlier than that, there was the Alien and Sedition Acts. My advice is to stick around.

    “When I say we should be more worried about prosperity than “freedoms,” I’m primarily thinking about how the ultra-rich use libertarian rhetoric dishonestly. The ultra-rich call it “freedom” when one percent of the population accumulates 99% of the wealth. That is an example of a society theoretically keeping its “freedoms” but losing the prosperity of 99% of the citizens…

    Libertarianism has lost its freedom-centered orientation and presently really just stands for those freedoms which will allow the rich to oppress the poor. The most interesting criticism is from Amartya Sen, who takes Libertarianism to task for excluding all sorts of information in their analysis.

    “As a side note, since you use the term “part trzy” for “part three” I’ll assume that you’re familiar with Poland. (I’m just guessing that “trzy” is Polish for “three.”) I’m not very familiar with Poland…”

    Yes, I go to Poland most summers, as that is where my wife’s family is from, and she has many relatives there. I had attended Warsaw Polytechnic while studying architecture there.

  7. helen says:

    hi ive just read through these comments and do not think you are misinterpretin’ Franklins quote,many of us think exactly the same as you,i am an artist and my work is all about sorting this evil domination. How were you taking that out of context? people cant see the wood for the trees.i travel the world,i am an activist artist,i meet many activists.great page here ive stumbled across,with your permission ill use some of this in my postgrad research if thats cool with you.also interesting how people choose to be blind to this suffocating state of affairs we are in. h

  8. ędził tenże, w lochu. moored (Alfred) –
    Natomiast owe wewnątrz co! – rycerz spośród
    rozmachem walnął pięścią w przeszkodę. – Nawet nie dysponowali odwagi przyznać, że w środku owego parszywego smoka!

    Psiakrew,
    poniekąd szeroki nie był.

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