Great Cover, Wrong Article, Part Deux

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Well, perhaps I should explain a bit about the last post.

I am not saying that the global financial network is collapsing tomorrow, or that suddenly, people are going to stop trading with China, or going to Europe for vacation, or going South in the Winter.

What I believe is this: Globalism, as one of the essential ideas which animates our culture and gives it direction, is being eclipsed.

It will not, of course, evaporate or disappear overnight, but we have reached an inflection point. Intellectually, it is a dead end.

Whether you read the future as written by Leonard Cohen or Bill Joy, Global Capitalism is not what drives the train. It might be what derails it, though.

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(Parenthetical thought that could be a separate post: Another theme of this site is the way cultural ideas and changes in direction, especially are recognized by artists long before they are captured by Scientists and the so-called Hard disciplines. The way the art director at the Economist picked a picture that was much better and poetic about the state of Globalisation in 2006 than the writers were able to conjur up in their article in the same issue. N.B.: Leonard Cohen wrote his future 1992 and Bill Joy wrote his in 2000. See also: the difference between analytic and systemic reasoning as discussed in: Similarities, Connections and Systems, The search for a new rationality for Planning and Management by Niraj Verma, pages 10-15 )

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So what are the forces that occupy center stage and drive Global Capitalism into the dark corners of our culture?

There are two forces that I see in ascendancy.

One is Sustainability, which will require that many of the unpriced (that is to say ‘free’) inputs to the present system of Global Capitalism will be priced. This will change the economy of many Globalised economic structures, making smaller scale local structures more viable, and ultimately, ascendant over globalised structures. This will be especially true regarding items that are very energy intensive to move around.

That is a fancy way of saying the corner drugstore is coming back (that is the one that you could walk to, on the way home from the train/subway/metro stop, and was incidentally connected to the local community) and the Wall Mart that everybody that had SUV’s used to drive to, in order to purchase tee-shirts made in China is on the way out.

There are many more aspects to sustainability, for example the unsustainability of travel amid the emergence of infectious diseases, and aesthetic movements that stress the local and the idiosyncratic over the standard and the bland, that will also reinforce these trends. I would note though that while people and goods may become less prone to move around, ideas and information will be more energized, and continue to travel further faster. So Globalisation topology is changing, so much so that what is left isn’t globalization as we know it.

The Second force that is changing Globalisation is Warfare, or, I should say, the reaction of our urban and economic structures to the realities of the new paradigm of the Global Guerrilla, an excellent source of discussion is John Robb’s site, Global Guerrillas. In several discussions we have identified resilient decentralization as the effective means to counter the realities of the open source global guerrilla movement. This resiliently decentralized network would imply a very different economic structure than presently exists.

Note that throughout history warfare has been a predominant influence on urbanisation and urban form, and the belief, now apparently widely held, that suddenly we are immune to forces that have governed the development of urban form throughout history is very akin to arrogance.

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Great Cover, Wrong Article, Part Deux

4 thoughts on “Great Cover, Wrong Article, Part Deux

  1. Noel:
    Not really, although they happen to say some things that I agree with in their long rant, which I find hopelessly stuck in blinding rhetoric of the class war mentality (Yes, classs of people do have different interests, but the also have reason to co-operate.)

    Here’s a post which I would refer you to:
    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/stiglitz74

    But, I ascribe more weight to the change in warfare as a result of Globalization, and believe that what will actually result, after all is said and done, is so different from the Globalization we know today, that to call the post-war landscape ‘Globalized’ would be such a stretch of the term that it would render it almost meaningless.

    I would also refer you to:
    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/castaneda2

    Although I do you a dis-service by referencing a particular Castenada article. They are all insightful, and Casteneda is simply: brillant.

  2. Noam Chomsky makes a good point in debate about Globalization:

    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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