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)
* 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.