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Multinationals And Globalism 573

Posted by JonKatz
from the not-the-same-thing dept.
(Last of two parts): Is globalism as relentlessly evil and corrupt a force as all those nasty demonstrations in Seattle and Milan would suggest? Anti-globalists sometimes seem to confuse corporatism with globalism, lumping in all sorts of issues under one term. There are plenty of economists and social scientists who maintain that globalization -- including the spread of new information and business technologies -- can not only be a great force for good, but in some forms represents the only feasible cure for global poverty and inequality. They also argue that political leaders have to meet more, not less, about these problems.

Many anti-globalization interests, Jay Walljasper writes in the latest Utne Reader, have coalesced in the belief that growing poverty, environmental destruction and social breakdown, with continuing bloodshed seen around the world, are the direct results of an international political and economic system that places most of the world's wealth and power in the hands of unaccountable and powerful corporations. "To these activists," writes Walljasper, "a new era of global peace and justice can be achieved by reinvigorating local communities and creating a new international system that promotes cooperation over competition."

Sounds great. In fact, it sounds like the early Wired Magazine manifestos about the Net, some of which I wrote. But would such a system work? Even if it did, who would pay for it and maintain it? And who will curb those corporations whose economic, lobbying and political power far outstrips any of those groups protesting their existence? Why would citizens in the west pay to "reinvigorate" local communities elsewhere and create a new international system? Globalism thrives on the contributions of corporations who want to profit from it, not from the efforts of governments or civic groups advancing democratic ideals.

The idea that globalism could even bolster those ideals is a view not widely held by fundamentalists or by certain educated elites in Europe and the United States. The institutions that to most minds represent the global economy -- the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization -- have become reviled and distrusted in these circles, their meetings developing into bloody standoffs. Political leaders in economically-advanced countries can no longer meet to talk about trade or economic issues without sparking riots.

The protesters opposing them represent a variety of causes, from the loss of good domestic jobs to the lowering of global wages to denouncing sweatshops to decrying environmental desctruction. They have quieter allies, too; even in prosperous Western economies, support for trade liberalization has declined and governments are accused of caving in to business interests. Liberal politicians from Bill Clinton to Britain's Tony Blair have expressed puzzlement and frustration at this sometimes anarchic, unthinking political fury; they claim such organizations are vital if wealth, technology and economic opportunity ever gets equitably distributed around the world.

Moreover, an editorial in the Economist magazine argues that anti-business protesters have their arguments upside down -- with genuinely dangerous consequences for the sometimes just causes they hope to advance. On the whole, says the Economist, stricter regulation of international business won't reduce profits. "What it may well do, though, by disabling markets in their civilizing role, is to give companies new opportunities to make even bigger profits at the expense of society at large." Companies pressured to increase wages will simply move, close overseas plants or charge more, thus make more profits. Afterwards, "The companies, having shafted their third world competition and protected their domestic markets, count their bigger profits (higher wage costs notwithstanding). And the third world workers displaced from locally-owned factories explain to their children why the West's new deal for the victims of capitalism requires them to starve."

If you follow these violent and confusing protests -- many now organized online -- you get the impression that some of these demonstrators confuse globalism with corporatism, since large companies are among the most vocal advocates of globalism and so far are its primary beneficiaries. The trappings of corporatism -- using technologies to create low wages and new markets, while suppressing individual enterprise and distinctive cultures -- have already encircled the world. McDonald's is much more symbolic of globalism than a small village in India getting wired for the Net, even though the latter may ultimately be more significant. And many political scientists equate Afghanistan's poverty, political extremism and instability to the fact that globalization hasn't yet reached the country.

The world's biggest companies sometimes appear more powerful than the world's biggest governments. (Microsoft's long and successful battle with the U.S. Justice Department is a good case in point). In the United States, they control our media and popular culture and are the primary contributors to the political system. Their lobbyists are the single most influential political force in Washington.

It's not surprising that many people feel instrinsically uncomfortable with globalism. Humanists aren't the spokespeople for globalization -- economic interests are. Corporations appear to be unchecked, and corporations have little inate social responsibility. They exist to generate profits, not advance social agendas or protect the environment, so they inevitably spark enormous resentment in foreign cultures whose citizens want jobs but are then puzzled by their own resulting lack of prosperity. These foreign workers also find that new globalizing technologies undermine their own national identities and religious and political values, all increasingly subsumed by the homogenized Disneyfication and Wal-Marting of the world that has swallowed up U.S. popular culture and countless small business, from pharmacies to family farms. The U.S. comes to seem like a remote, sometimes monstrous, always greedy and insensitive force.

But Giddens argues that democracy -- and the globalism inextricably linked with it -- is the most powerful emerging idea of the 21st century. Few states in the world don't call themselves democratic now, even when they aren't, like China and North Korea. In fact, the only countries are explicitly refer to themselves as non-democratic are the remaining semi-feudal monarchies or fundamentalist entities -- Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria.

Democracy's spread has now in fact created a bloody confrontation with fundamentalism, a holy war. Both sides refer to one another in evil blasphemers. Lost in this confrontation is the idea that Democracy isn't only about multi-national markets, cheap labor and business opportunities. It's about the liberation of information, freedom of religious and cultural choice, and a brorader value system with a complex civic structure. Yet another good reason why multinationals ought not to appear more powerful than governments (they aren't) and become the sole face and voice of globalization.

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Multinationals And Globalism

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  • Have multinationals hijacked globalism? (Yes.)
    Done.
    • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @04:45PM (#2509071) Homepage
      The article makes no sense at all. All it tells me is that Katz has read some article by Giddens. I don't consider Giddens to be the authorative author on the topic, Katz keeps refering to Giddens and only giddens as if globalization is a Giddens discovery.

      The Economist piece is worth reading, the economist usually is worth reading, Kats is usually not worth reading. So lets pretend that we just had a link to the articles in the Economist, BBC, etc. etc.

      I have very little sympathy with either side of the slashdot 'debate'. The liberweenie 'corporations are the absolute good' view is infantile. Equally infantile is the 'corporations are absolute evil view'. These are not two poles of the argument, they are actually the same argument which really has more to do with the ego of the person making the statement. There really is no difference between most of the Libertarians, Trotskyites or 'anti-globalists', any more than there is a difference between different varieties of religious bigott. All beliefs in absolute revealled truth are bogus and as Karl Popper pointed out are the enemies of the open society.

      The policies of the third world countries are no different at the topmost level of abstraction than those of the West, their priority is to do the best for their country. To that end various ideological dogmas may be used as rhetoric, the reality is for the most part more pragmatic.

      Immediately after the second world war the whole of the West was a command economy. There was simply no other alternative, if the war was to be won 40% of the GNP had to be redirected towards military spending. The US was no different to Europe in this, the only rhetorical difference was that the word 'socialism' was never used.

      It took the West something like 20 years to dismantle most of the command economy. A command economy is only efficient in the short term and then for only very narrow short term goals.

      The leaders of the third world are not the morons that many posters appear to believe. Empirically it takes a lot more brains to become the leader of the average Third world or post-communist european country than President of the US.

      There is no real disagreement that the ideal for the third world would be to establish a free market system supported by a modern idustrial base. The problem is that you can't get there by simply declaring your country to be a free market. You have to achieve a certain level of prosperity before the surplus capital is available to make the free market work.

      Last month the US government gave its airline industry a $15 billion government handout. The 'stimulus' (i.e. pork) bill that just passed the house gives $25 billion in backdated tax cuts to large corporations, in particular Texan oil companies. It is therefore somewhat rich for the US to go preaching the wonders of the free market.

      The third world has been complaining about the vast cost of AIDs drugs for five years. The US has been insisting that the rights of the patent holders come before the lives of Aids victims in the third world. But when the US and Canada decide that they need to build a stockpile of Cipro the threat of voiding Bayer's patent rights is made within days.

      Before the war on terror Unilateralism was the policy of the day. The Bush administration did not think it needed foreign support. The US army could crush any other and the ABM shield would shortly eliminate any threat of nuclear blackmail. To the extent the US had a foreign policy it was determined by campaign contribution bribes.

      Now the world is very different. The US suddenly needs friends in places it did not care existed. The national interest is suddenly more important than the narrow corporate interest.

  • by Anton Anatopopov (529711) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @01:08PM (#2507561)
    As Naomi Klein [nologo.org] said in her bestselling book on the subject, 'No Logo [amazon.com]' the problem with globalization is that corporations simply move to the country with the weakest labor protection laws.

    If we are going to have globalization of business profit making, should we not also have globalization of ethical awareness too ?

    It is easy to dismiss this because it happens far away in another country, but the events of September 11th should have given us a heads-up that we need to pay close attention to the poorer parts of the world if we are to avoid our own destruction.

    There are 34 pages from 'No Logo' available by following the Amazon link I have included above. Read them. You might not agree, but you will be better informed.

    • Labor protection laws are BUNK.

      When you go to a country that you think has slave labor, do you realize that many of these so called sweat shops are really shops with people who are THANKFUL to have a job? They're making 5-10 times more than they would be making anywhere else, and the environment, while difficult, still allows them to make their families prosper so maybe their kids won't have to "struggle" and "work as hard."

      It's terrible labor laws and government intervention that has made America impossible to produce in. Other countries with "slave labor sweatshops" are nothing of the sort when you really look into the realities of the worker-business contract.

      If people don't want to work so hard, why do they do it? Because its an opportunity to pull their families and their communities out of the toilet.

      The way to not support sweat shops if you don't like them is to NOT buy their products. End it the capitalist consumer way, don't get government involved.

      • by Anton Anatopopov (529711) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @01:23PM (#2507648)
        You clearly do not know what you are talking about. Ask anyone who has visited the free trade zones in China, or the sweatshop labor factories in Indonesia.

        Apart from anything else, these people are forced to work ludicrously long hours for peanuts. It may make you feel better if you can pretend that everything is OK and that these people are being exploited by choice, but it simply is not true.

        As a libertarian, you should realise that coercion cannot play a part in any civilised society, so why then do you think people are working 20 hour shifts ?

        It is this dumb Amrerican 'head in the sand' attitude which shows no knowledge of the world outside our comfortable fat consumerist existance which makes the rest of the world hate us.

        Note, I said HATE. Not dislike, they actually hate us, and the exploitative money hungry moral-free value system we represent.

        Just try starting a branch of the 'libertarian party' in China and see how far you get.

        • coercion implies force, which you would realize if you knew anything about libertarian philosophy. what force is used to get these people to work 20 hour shifts? is the government going up to people with a gun and telling them to work, then giving them money besides?

          there's always a choice. i refuse to believe that the *only* thing a person can do is to go into a sweatshop. it may not be a fair choice, mind you, but there's always some choice to be made.

          and, a little note: they hate us because we're the rich, good-looking kid on the playground who is smart enough not to give his lunch away everyday to the kids who are too stupid to find their own money.
          • by Anton Anatopopov (529711) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @01:45PM (#2507774)
            Whilst not claiming to be an expert on libertarian 'philosophy', I do know coercion when I see it. A simple search of the internet reveals several instances. One of which I reproduce here for your enlightenment.

            Use of Indonesian soldiers to provide "security" at the Nikomas Factory in Indonesia [caa.org.au]
            Members of the Indonesian army are frequently employed as "security" in factories in Indonesia during periods of industrial unrest to prevent industrial action. In September 1999 a US student delegation observed Indonesian soldiers stationed at the Nikomas factory at a time when wage negotiations were being conducted. Following the publicity the issue received the soldiers were replaced by non-military security (police and security guards) who were playing an appropriate role. Subsequently however, during peaceful strike action by workers at PT Nikomas, police from Brimob (an armed police brigade) equipped with guns entered the factory and together with factory security guards and hired civilians they threatened and provoked workers. We repeat our call for Nike to ensure that Indonesia's armed forces are never called in to prevent or interfere with peaceful industrial action.

            You go on to say: and, a little note: they hate us because we're the rich, good-looking kid on the playground who is smart enough not to give his lunch away everyday to the kids who are too stupid to find their own money.

            Again, I feel I must correct you: they hate us because we are a genocidal nation [tripod.com] of gun-crazy [tuxedo.org] psychopaths [mnsinc.com] and lunatics [crimelibrary.com].

          • ...coercion implies force...

            Ah, sophmoric libertarian philosophy.

            If I have the medicine you need to live, I can coerce you quite well without force or threat of force, can I not?

            If I and my partners control all the available food and you are hungry, we can coerce you quite well. If we own the land and you want a roof over your head, we can coerce you.

            And if we own the capital, and you want a job, we can coerce you. That's capitalism in a nutshell.

            Control of resources is highly effective coercion. That's why we often use blockades and sanctions to get other nations to do what we want.

            there's always a choice...it may not be a fair choice, mind you, but there's always some choice to be made.
            Choice does not imply lack of coercion. If I point a gun at you to try to enforce my will, you can always choose to die.
        • You clearly do not know what you are talking about. Ask anyone who has visited the free trade zones in China, or the sweatshop labor factories in Indonesia. Apart from anything else, these people are forced to work ludicrously long hours for peanuts.

          There is one word that is wrong in there and it is the central point you are missing. Those people are NOT forced. Even China, I believe has long since ceased slave labor. Those people work those ridiculously long hours because it is better work for more money than whatever their alternatives are. If we withdraw the option, then they have to go back to whatever even worse work they had before.

          As a libertarian, you should realise that coercion cannot play a part in any civilised society, so why then do you think people are working 20 hour shifts ?

          They are working 20 hour shifts because that is how much they need to work to make the amount of money they need to survive. If they were given the option of 8 hour shifts, they probably wouldn't make enough money to survive and they probably wouldn't survive. I don't think that's what your advocating.

          • If they were given the option of 8 hour shifts, they probably wouldn't make enough money to survive and they probably wouldn't survive.


            So their options are either (a) work 20 hour shifts, or (b) die. I'm glad to hear they have a choice in the matter. :^P


            Ask yourself: If you were in the above situation, would you feel that you were being treated fairly? Be honest.

            • So their options are either (a) work 20 hour shifts, or (b) die. I'm glad to hear they have a choice in the matter. :^P

              They don't have a choice in how hard they work. Poor people have to work harder than rich people to survive. The universe is not fair. We can't make it fair, no matter how much we would like to. The choice they have is working 20 hours for Nike or working 20 hours in a rice paddy. Or maybe working 15 hours as a prostitute. That they choose Nike demonstrates something important about their other options.

              Ask yourself: If you were in the above situation, would you feel that you were being treated fairly? Be honest.

              I don't think I would really think about it terms of fair or unfair. I would think about it in terms of: "Nike is paying 5 cents a day better than my alternative. I guess I'll go do that." They would think about it in terms of survival and making a better life for their kids and so should we.

              It isn't really fair that baseball players get paid so much more than soccer players either. Or that Bill Gates is so much richer than Linus Torvalds. If I was born before the failed Soviet Union experiment I would probably be a lot more motivated to set up a system that was "fair" rather than one that was economically efficient.

              That said, I'm all for creative solutions like fair trade coffee and better labelling on clothes. If I heard protesters demanding a kinder, gentler, more accountable globalization, I would be in their corner. But what I actually hear is bashing globalization per se.

      • Though your arguments are clear and correct, there still remain islands (pun intended) of 'bad' sweatshop labor.

        Take the case of the clothing factories in the CNMI (makers of fine Polo, Liz Claiborne, J. Crew, and Banana Republic clothes, among others). Chinese laborers are lured into the labor by the promise of American dollars and a better life, but their 'saviors' charge them usuriously high rates to transport them from their home country. They then get to work off their debt by working in the factories. However, they likely have no place to stay so they live in the company barracks which also charges rent, leaving the workers penniless and unable to improve their lot.

        This is not a bash of those clothiers named above, most have actually pulled their manufacturing out of Saipan. However, when discussing sweatshops, it must be made clear to the companies taking advantage of cheap overseas labor that it is unacceptable to allow such abuses of the system to occur.
      • by szcx (81006) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @01:46PM (#2507779)
        I worked for a company that has manufacturing plants in China, so I've seen the sweat-shops first hand. People are by no means happy and are certainly not earning "5-10 times more" money than anywhere else. In many regions, global companies have completely taken over (with the help of corrupt local officials). The only "choice" locals have is to work for a pittance, or starve. They're not thankful to have a job -- they're thankful they're not dead.

        I recall one facility (in Dongguan) had 50,000 people living and working on site, there is razor wire around the perimeter and guards armed with automatic weapons on patrol. Thank God for globalism, it's bringing a better quality of life to people everywhere...

        • What you are talking about is something that ought to be illegal ANYWHERE in the world. You are describing slave labor and politicians effectively selling citizens to companies. I don't understand why you choose to blame this on globalism/globalization. A big fucking Chinese company could move into an area and do the same damned thing. So could a Chinese government owned company.


          It is the job of a government to protect its people from slavery, forced labor, etc. and the job of a people to NEVER allow an opressive government to take over their lives. I would die for my freedom, and if these people are really being treated as you describe, I can't for the life of me imagine why they never rose up against the people treating them that way and organized a government that doesn't force its people to work as slave laborers.


          I fail entirely to see what you expect the US government or other first world governments to do about this. If you want to force labor protection laws in these countries, the correct vehicle would have to be a world-wide governmental organization, a UN with vastly expanded powers. The thing is that NONE of these third world countries want that. Like I said, if what you say is true, it's the responsibility of those people or their government.

          • I do not, and have not blamed the US government for what's happening in the third world. I blame corporations who exploit those situations and do whatever is necessary to perpetuate it to increase profits.

            You wonder why people aren't rising up against their oppressors? They are. Take a look at Indonesia. The place is a powderkeg. I was in Malaysia during the Kuala Lumpur riots, they're in the same boat.

            FWIW, you don't need the UN to invade third world countries to curtail this kind of behavior. You can do it by having first world countries impose penalties on the local subsidiaries of multinationals who participate in this form of slavery. But that wont happen because there are people in the first world who quite like their cheap fruit and consumer electronics. They'll scream bloody murder about capitalism being threatened at the slightest hint of sanctions.

      • Please try to spend a month and not buy products from China.
      • First of all, it's not about the US alone
        >If people don't want to work so hard, why do they do it? Because its an opportunity...
        It's not a opportunity...
        Imagine, some people don't have the problem to choose between a Playstation 2 and a X-Box.
        Either they work, or they and their family would starve.

        It's either you work or one of the 100 other people waiting for the job would do it.

        >The way to not support sweat shops if you don't like them is to NOT buy their products
        Now, don't say that a bad treatement of their employees would have an negative impact on their sales.
        You and most other people (myself included) have no idea, under which conditions my clothing or shoes. Did you know how Nike produce(d?) [saigon.com] some shoes?
        Or do you ask about it? Will someone tell you about it? (Excuse me sir, are those shoes produced with child labor? How are the working conditions?)

        >It's terrible labor laws and government intervention that has made America impossible to produce in

        In what ways did the US (and other industrial nations) suffer from the increased cost, due to protection laws?
        IRC, the total amount of wealth increased. The difference between the poorer countries and the richer countries increased, same with the rich and the poor in the US.

        > End it the capitalist consumer way, don't get government involved.

        It seems to me that most person have forgotten where those govermental regulations and unions did stem from and how working conditions in the industrial nations (today one should say information nations) where before(e.g. US [uaw2166.org]) those regulations.
        Did you read Dickens "Oliver Twist" by any chance?

        Nowadays, in most industrial nations most legislations seem to be unnecessary and maybe even are.
        But most nations in the world have not reached this level of wealth, where it's up to choose between more or less comfort in exchange for more or less money, but between something to eat and nothing.
      • >They're making 5-10 times more than they would be making anywhere else,

        Correct. People endure dangerous conditions and very long shifts because they can get a lot of money, compared to people without overseas jobs.

        But look at what it does. The economy adjusts to having an overseas factory in town. People know the workers have money so they charge more for rent and food. This affects everyone, including those who don't make nice factory wages (of $.50 / hour, tops) and ends up lowering the standard of living in the area.

        > NOT buy their products. End it the capitalist
        > consumer way, don't get government involved.
        So the government should provide the protection of law to the companies. Making sure that the people don't just take these valuable western machines and sell them, but the government shouldn't provide the protection of law to the people, making sure they're paid a living wage for a safe and fair job?

        That's a bit of a double standard.

        For people to lobby against Nike is for them to use the same "force" against Nike that Nike uses against the people it employs. The force of law. If you want it to work for you, you have to accept it when it works against you.
    • As Naomi Klein [nologo.org] said in her bestselling book on the subject, 'No Logo [amazon.com]' the problem with globalization is that corporations simply move to the country with the weakest labor protection laws.

      The majority of the world has essentially no labor protection whatsoever. That's because they are too poor to be able to afford that protection. When companies move jobs to places where there is no labor protection, they are moving jobs to poor countries. That helps the poor people there. Preventing corporations from moving the jobs hurts those people.

      Even in rich countries, organized labor is a sell out of the impoverished for the middle class. How many times have we heard labor fight against a company trying to hire part-timers. The part-timers tend to be immigrants working three or four jobs. The full-timers tend to be well-connected people with relatively hefty salaries.

      If we are going to have globalization of business profit making, should we not also have globalization of ethical awareness too ?

      Yes. We should. So let's globalize ethical awareness, not prevent the movement of jobs to the places where people need them most. It is pretty clear world-wide that once a particular society gets to a particular level of income they develop the same labor protections we have here. Why would you deny them the opportunity to work up to that point?

    • I've read No Logo (Score:3, Interesting)

      by daviddennis (10926)
      What it gave me was an admiration for the corporations, and how they will co-opt anything, even forces aiming at their own destruction.

      When corporations do truly evil things, activist groups can act as checks and balances against them.

      But it's important to note that if you want the people of desperately poor countries to thrive, they need to start at the bottom and work their way up. Rich countries don't spring up in a day; in early America, there were appalling working conditions, which gradually got better as the nation got richer. The same general pattern occured in Japan, South Korea and just about everywhere else that's prosperous now.

      The nations that turned their back on capitalism and trade have fared far worse; consider India, most of Africa and the Middle East as examples. We complain about people being paid $ 0.50 a day for their work; in Afghanistan that would feel like wealth.

      In the end, capitalism may be a terrible system, its main virtue being that every other system is worse. The way capitalism works is that people try and do as well as they can. If the jobs given by the multinational corporations were really bad, well, they can always try and find work elsewhere. Often the reason wages are so low is that there isn't work to be found. This is hardly the fault of multinational corporations!

      I am not saying that multinationals are perfect, but this is an imperfect world, at best. The multinationals have provided opportunity in desolate places where opportunities are scarce.

      And I must admit to disliking the homogination of the world, the McDonalds and Burger Kings and the like. The best way to fight this is simply not to eat there. The only way American culture and businesses can succeed is that people want their products. Somehow it doesn't seem like depriving people of what they want is going to make the world a better place.

      It may be very colourful and very idealistic to protest the WTO and trade, but trade produces an improvement in the status of everyone in the world. If those poor people don't make our stuff, they'd probably be picking rice in a paddy, working 12 back-breaking hours a day.

      D
    • I have often wondered whether, when Rome was at her peak, her citizens ever paused to imagine, perhaps between distractions at the Colloseum, that their peerless, unassailable empire was about to be overrun by hoards of barbarians from the outlying provinces. The Dark Ages, which soon followed, were frighteningly reminiscent of the world envisioned by islamist fundamentalists. Just a thought.
    • It is easy to dismiss this because it happens far away in another country, but the events of September 11th should have given us a heads-up that we need to pay close attention to the poorer parts of the world if we are to avoid our own destruction.

      Yeah - fuck em unless they're likely to try and fuck you back!

      great attitude!

      Personally I subscribe to the 'treat others as you would have them treat you' philosophy even if they dont have a hope of hitting back.
    • that's the only thing a multinational corp will listen to. And its far more effective than a violent protest at a WTO convention.


      Organize boycotts, and create consumer awareness programs if you want the sweatshops to stop. They'll listen to the bucks, but probably won't listen to a bunch of angry tree huggers.

    • If we are going to have globalization of business profit making, should we not also have globalization of ethical awareness too ?

      Well, from the article:

      Lost in this confrontation is the idea that Democracy isn't only about multi-national markets, cheap labor and business opportunities. It's about the liberation of information, freedom of religious and cultural choice, and a brorader value system with a complex civic structure.

      Ethical awareness comes into play with that. When you have greater freedoms, you also have greater responsibilities.

      Think about an employee in the trenches (generally little freedom) vs. the CEO (lots of freedom). THat CEO has more responsibilities that go alont with that freedom, though.

      If you're given freedom of speech, then you also have to take responsbility for what you say. If you're given freedom to bear arms, then you have to take responsibility for what you do with those arms. If your'e given freedom of religion, then you have to take the responsibility of choosing a religion (or lack thereof) that suits you and you have the responsibility not infringe on others' right to choose and excercise their religion either.
  • by Azghoul (25786) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @01:10PM (#2507569) Homepage
    Realizing I'll get flamed to hell and back...

    Please please please, all of you liberal, or socialist, or leftist, black-mask wearing protesters please read the Economist article.

    Would you really stop large corporations? Would you really want to deny people in the 3rd world a chance to move ahead far more quickly than America ever did?

    I totally agree that cultural homogenization is horrendous, but the vast majority of people the world over apparently don't agree! That doesn't prevent small, unique businesses and institutions from existing! There are still mom-and-pop ISPs out there! There are still small manufacturing companies!

    Why do you folks insist that the world is coming to an end, and that multinationals are taking us there?? Reading too much cyberpunk fiction?

    (note: I hate the homogeneity. I abhor Walmart, McD's, and their ilk. I'll buy by stuff from tiny stores when I can. Because I want to support local, unique business, even if that means I have to pay a few extra bucks. How about you?)
    • by ellem (147712) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `25melle'> on Thursday November 01, 2001 @01:21PM (#2507639) Homepage Journal
      There is something to be said for McD's and Walmart though... If I go to Singapore and I just want to eat... I don't want an adventure, I don't want to taste local offerins, I simply want to eat. McD's offers me something I know. I get a crappy burger cooked by mediocre workers who aren't ever going to get paid well as long as they stay at McD's.

      If I am in Cumshot, Iowa and I need to purchase a calculator like the one I have on my desk Wal-Mart proabably has it. Mom's Calculator Shack might, but who knows?

      I don't want every person in Singapore to give up their local eats, but I don't think putting a McD's in a city is potentially dangerous to the cultural well being of a people. Anymore than putting Yi Sung kitchen down the block is.

      Homogeny is not evil.
    • Would you really want to deny people in the 3rd world a chance to move ahead far more quickly than America ever did?

      <devilsadvocate> Do you call Nike's sweatshops and government assisted oppression of attempts to break them "moving ahead far more quickly than America ever did?" Yes, we had sweatshops here. We also had an established and reasonably open press and government which allowed us to take the necessary steps to break them. If you don't think that corporations have learned from experience and are taking steps to prevent the same thing from occurring overseas, you've got your head where it doesn't belong.</devilsadvocate>

      I think that the Economist article makes good points, and globalization shouldn't be confused with corporatism, but corporatism is definitely a big problem.

      • by elefantstn (195873) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @01:35PM (#2507712)

        If you think the Nike "sweatshops" are in any way comparable to what passed for factories in America (and Western Europe) during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, you have another thing coming. While the greatest transgression that Nike has allegedly committed is not giving bathroom breaks, factories here regularly for all intents and purposes purchased orphan children and used them in the most dangerous situations because they had no one to complain on their behalf. Crushed by a coal machine vs. having to hold it too long: you decide.

        • Just because some slaves were treated well didn't mean they weren't still slaves with all the negatives that implies. In the same way, just because some sweatshop laborers have it better than others did in the past doesn't mean it's not still sweatshop labor.

          The issue isn't just the working conditions themselves, it's also what possibilities do these people have to improve those conditions? In the US and Western Europe, we had two things going for us: open "enough" societies and inexperience on the part of corporations with dealing with worker uprisings. Today's situation is different; perhaps the sweatshops aren't so dangerous, but there's a lot less chance of people lifting themselves up to a better standard of living too.

        • While the greatest transgression that Nike has allegedly committed is not giving bathroom breaks,

          If you think that's the "worst transgression" Nike's been accused of, you have [umich.edu] another thing coming [businessweek.com].
      • RE: Yes, we had sweatshops here.

        Change the tense. Many Chinatowns have kitchens and/or sewing rooms where people make far less than the minimum wage. Dishwashers from Ecuador in NYC making $2.50 an hour. Two choices: complain or be deported. People wanting easily exploitable people don't have to leave the country.
    • No flame here. This Economist study on globalization is one of the most well-reasoned explanations of how extremist activists are literally causing the poorest workers to make lower wages, the number of available jobs to decrease, and the chances for poor countries to thrive to simply vanish.
    • There are fundamental misconceptions here, two of which need to be addressed before I explode:

      1) That so-called "3rd world" wealth is increasing at the same or greater rate as the wealth of the top of the American pay scale. This is total crap and none of the economic indicators support this. Sorry, but the top echelons of American society continue to suck resources and wealth from the rest of the world at a stunning rate.

      2) That so-called "3rd world" populations anywhere outside of urban areas actually want to be "like Americans" and live the "western lifestyle." Generally, they don't. Many of them (especially adults in these populations) are quite literally losing their religion, their language, their traditions, their family land, their traditional rights & priveleges under law, etc. etc. etc., all under the banner of "increasing standard of living" (a.k.a. westernization, in which most profits and resources will end up at some point in the pockets of the western nations).

      Homogeneity is not merely a problem of corporate life, it is a problem of American culture. We are losing worldwide diversity in cultures and in peoples much faster than we are losing diversity in the marketplace. Most in the western world have no idea just how diverse the cultures and lifestyles of the world once were. Most westerners also have a prejudice that "our way is the way of truth and right" and all other lifestyles, political structures, or economic systems are somehow evil. How ugly it is to watch them all disappear, no matter whether traditional or local ways are replaced by a McDonald's or by a "mom and pop" burger stand that appears in their place. Quite simply, it is a shame to see a for-profit "burger stand" in some places at all.
    • The only beef I have with "homogenisation" is this... well, first, let me say that when the last socialist is strangled with the entrails of the last "activist", we'll be far better off. I don't care what these shaven-headed balaclava wearing vegan wholefood endorsing socialist collective types say, you bring weapons to a demonstration, you don't anticipate protesting peacefully. Socialism means trying to find someone else to pay your bills, which explains why parts of Canada are cool to live in if you don't want to work, while the economy as a whole is tanking and taxes are going past 60%. Back to my point- the only problem I have with homogenisation is that it kills any regional character. When I went to Haight-Ashbury, at the very corner you had Ben & Jerry's (big corporation), The Gap (Everyone in Tie-Dye!)--- most of the interesting little businesses that were once there were priced out by Asian syndicates pumping out T-shirts ("I went to Haight Ashbury man, and all I got was this far-out T-shirt") etc. And what gets me is, those businesses don't belong there, if you get my drift, any more than Brooks Brothers has any relevance to sponsoring a Dayglow Abortions concert. I don't hate the Gap, but as far as I'm concerned them taking over the boutiques of Haight Ashbury doesn't want me to buy from there - it makes me not want to return to HA, cause it ain't what it was.
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday November 01, 2001 @01:13PM (#2507582) Homepage Journal
    Globalism is never a problem for anyone -- it allows competition to level the paying field for even the poorest nations as long as they have the people who want to work for it.

    Where globalism, capitalism, and "Big Business" get ugly is when the government (any government) intervenes in any way: whether its a subsidy, a tariff, an embargo, even a bailout (a la airlines). The minute a government steals from the citizens in order to help a business, the system falls apart. Those who worked hard to make their business profitable get hurt for their smarts (Look at the airline industry, there are numerous airlines HIRING right now, and some of which who are still profitable). Instead, our government takes the biggest ones, with the worst track record of profitability, and bail them out, hurting the little guy who was making it work.

    Big Business will always fail with no government intervention, eventually. 10 smaller companies in a co-op situation will always do better in the long run if they have the competitive edge and no sanctions to hurt them or subsidies to help the Big Business competition.

    It's evident that totally free trade can "save the world." It's more evident that our country will never allow it. Sanctions against Iraq destroyed that country (NOT Saddam Hussein as the media and government portrays as the culprit). Sanctions and subsidies destroyed the wheat crop in Columbia, then destroyed the coffee crop. What was left? Coca. Now our government intervenes to destroy that crop.

    In order to have a peaceful society, we need to get government ENTIRELY out of free trade. Let businesses and people deal with whomever they want, bar none. I can understand if government may want to limit arms sales, but other than that, I can see no reason to ever limit or subsidies trade or business of any kind. In a totally free economy, there will always be winners and losers. Unfortunately, government intervention makes losers into smaller losers, and the winners into big losers. Tell them to stay out, and you'll see happy people all over the world, able to buy and sell their wares at prices that they deem proper.

    We believe that without the government, prices would skyrocket (they wouldn't, supply and demand and competition prevent that), or we'd have shortages (again, suppy and demand and competition would help), or we'd see our economy fail because other countries do it cheaper (they do, and better, sometimes its even our unions that make our businesses unprofitable, not necessarily our business tactics).

    • "Where globalism, capitalism, and "Big Business" get ugly is when the government (any government) intervenes in any way"

      Typical libertarian short-sightedness. What's the difference between a government and a very rich non-governmental entity? Not much. They both potentially have an immense power over the individuals.

      "But the corporations have to face the free market!" Well that's right, to a certain extent. Just like it is true that most governments have to face democratic polls.

      There are many cases where the "free market" is just not sufficient to prevent abuse. It's often less costly to just dump your waste in the open for everyone to share than pay for it's processing. "But the people will stop buying product from polluting corporations!" Not when said corporations can buy the medias, advertising agencies, bully their opponents to have them shut up.

      Libertarianism is also implicitly based on one flawed assumption -- that every economic entity (individuals and corporations alike) will act rationally. Newsflash: it's wrong. Corporations often do stupid stuff, because they're after all just a bunch of people, some of them can be stupid or act stupid at times. And more specifically, individuals can do stupid thing.

      And if it happens that said stupid individuals goes irrational, while being extremely rich, he can do a lot of harm, if there's no governmental / democratic institution to safeguard against him. What's to prevent a billion-dollar mogul from buying lots of land and burn it down or spread nuclear waste all over it? In a libertarian world, it's his money, he can do whatever he wants with it, and nobody's here to stop him.

      You don't have money? You ain't got no right. That's libertarianism.

      That said, I'm pretty close to libertarian views myself, I can agree to most of their program. But there blind faith in the regulatory values of the free market is irrational. And "money" should not be allowed to buy anything.

      • "What's the difference between a government and a very rich non-governmental entity?"

        A _ton_ of difference. A corporation is easy to kill over a short period of time. Look at bridgestone. Ford is hurting. General Motors was targeted by Nader, but it fell apart of its own problems. What happened to Silo consumer electronics stores? There's a long list of where big corporations fall apart beause consumers were unhappy. Governments are near impossible to topple.

        "It's often less costly to just dump your waste in the open for everyone to share than pay for it's processing."

        Another reason government should never own "open land." When land is owned by private citizens or corporations, pollution is a non-problem. Why? If a corporation pollute on or into another person's property, that's a crime -- littering or destroying the value of another's property. That corporation would get screwed.

        Where is almost all the big pollution in our country? On government land, rented to big corporations. Of course they pollute. You ever rent an apartment and keep it up like it was owned by you? Of course not. If government would sell the land to corporations and private individuals, those entities would have a stake in the future value of the land. Polluting their own land is stupid (throws the value of the land into the trash) and if they accidentally polluted onto someone else's property they'd be held liable for billions. Not good business practice. The Greens are so wrong on the environmental issues its not funny. Government pollutes or helps to pollute.

        "Corporations often do stupid stuff, because they're after all just a bunch of people, some of them can be stupid or act stupid at times. "

        You're right. And that's where personal responsibility and liability comes in. Many libertarians (small 'L') are anti-corporate protection laws. I don't believe in people being able to hide behind unconstitutional limited liability laws. If someone messes up, they will be held responsible. If government messes up, are they EVER? Waco? Ruby Ridge? Etc etc? No. Even when the government ADMITS doing wrong, it never has any reason (or legal ramification) to fix the problem. Private entities and individuals do!

        "And "money" should not be allowed to buy anything. "

        Then what should? If you want a nice piece of property, WORK FOR IT. You want the best food? WORK FOR IT. You want to get to work quicker in your own car? WORK FOR IT. What can you name that money SHOULDN'T buy? It's probably bought right now with money because the GOVERNMENT REGULATES IT. If the Government would stop regulating everything in site, money wouldn't be such a powerful ally to politicians and PACs/Big Business. Limit the power of government, and campaign contributions will hit $0 from corporations, within 1 day.

      • You don't have money? You ain't got no right. That's libertarianism.

        No, that a gross misrepresentation. (but who would expect anything less)

        Libertarianism isn't "he who has the most power (in this case money) wins." That's a form of anarchism. The little guy has just as many rights under libertariansim as the big guy. In fact, I'd argue that a big gov't gives more power to those with big $$$ since their $$$ influence those who make the laws. Why (if you live in the states) do you pay more for sugar than what it costs on the global market? Because the sugar industry (esp the Fanjuls) pays a LOT of money to both parties to keep the tariffs high. A bigger gov't is a gov't that can be bought.

        It always amazes me how folks think that people who work for a corp work only in their self interest, yet people who work in the gov't only work for the greater good. Sorry, it just doesn't happen. People are people and they fall somewhere in between those extremes. Businesses spend a lot of money on PACs because THEY WORK. And there in lies your problem. A smaller gov't with tightly defined roles and responsibilities is less influenced than one with broad, arbitrary powers.
    • percicly why I think FDR was the wrost president in the nations history. he began this government intervention in 1932 and subscribed to the dumb ass kanesien(sp?) economic philosophy that has been so hard to give up. if the governement did not subsidize business, then taxes would go way down, and the market would be much healthier. kanes' stupid CIG crap was rediculouse a depression occures when the economy is over inflated, why should a government take more of the peoples money to help to prop up the faulse bubble?
  • Meeting in secret (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sheepy (78169)

    I am under the impression that a great part of the fustration felt by the demonstrators at G7 meetings (and others) is due to the fact that these meetings are held in private.

    If there was a rule that all meetings involving representatives of a democracy must be open to inspection by the voters then I believe there would not be so much fustration.

    Of course the reason these meetings are held in secret is that the G7 leaders (and others) are discussing and agreeing things that their voters would not agree with. So much for democracy.

    • by smallpaul (65919)

      Of course the reason these meetings are held in secret is that the G7 leaders (and others) are discussing and agreeing things that their voters would not agree with. So much for democracy.

      Actually, the problem is that much of what they are discussing is things that their corporations would not agree with. When the American representative says to the Japanese representative, "Okay, we'll lower our tariffs on steel if you lower your tarrifs on computer chips" they hear screams of bloody murder from their steel and computer chip manufacturers. The beneficiaries of these policies are ordinary people, Joe Blow. But we can't be bothered to lobby on our own behalf. "Lower steel prices NOW!"

  • by Moorlock (128824) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @01:17PM (#2507604) Homepage
    Anti-globalists sometimes seem to confuse corporatism with globalism, lumping in all sorts of issues under one term.

    In my experience, this is more true of the confused and lazy reporting about "anti-globalists" than of the actual activists.

    The activists have sincere, complex concerns that don't reduce well to sound-bites. So the media reduces them to sound-bites anyway, for their own purposes, and then commentators use these sound-bites to complain that the activists are simplistic.

    I mean, heck, if you get your information from the news media, you might have the impression that a coalition of government representatives working on regulating the global market is really an organization in favor of free trade.

    Hell, even the Libertarians are falling for this one. A little hint for the Randoids: You get a bunch of governments together in a room to agree on a set of rules and regulations about the economy and I guarandamntee you that "free trade" isn't going to come out the other end.

    • A little hint for the Randoids: You get a bunch of governments together in a room to agree on a set of rules and regulations about the economy and I guarandamntee you that "free trade" isn't going to come out the other end.
      As a Libertarian, let me be the first to agree with you. And even if I didn't agree with that , I would still sympathize with protestors whose rights were being violated.

      But I can't put all the blame for attitudes towards these protestors on media coverage. I know these people. Some of them are my friends. Even the intelligent ones believe a lot of things that are completely opposed to Libertarianism. They really do believe deep down that when a government intervenes in the economy, it does so most of the time on behalf of the poor, and that such intervention is the only way to ensure social justice. And that's a way of thinking I have trouble relating to.

      So in fact, there is a lot to dislike about this protest movement without being "fooled".

    • Hell, even the Libertarians are falling for this one. A little hint for the Randoids: You get a bunch of governments together in a room to agree on a set of rules and regulations about the economy and I guarandamntee you that "free trade" isn't going to come out the other end.

      So are you claiming that trade between Canada, the US and Mexico was MORE FREE before NAFTA? Or that China will have more trade barriers AFTER it joins the WTO?

  • "Corporations appear to be unchecked, and corporations have little inate social responsibility. They exist to generate profits, not advance social agendas or protect the environment"

    The same can be used to describe more than a few politicans, but in the U.S. and abroad.

  • This may be an unpopular idea, but it seems that one of the only ways to preserve local cultures is to somehow limit the expressive possibilities of global media. i.e. limits on corporate or mass-marketed speech. This happens in France with its film industry to some extent, IIRC.

    Is this what we really want? Are thoughts/images/ideas produced by U.S. media automatically suspect or hegemonic? Eventually you will have, in any given country, the government or "cultural review board" decreeing that ideas developed within to be preferable to ideas developed outside the borders.

    Hopefully I'm not the only one who finds this disturbing.
  • by merger (235225) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @01:18PM (#2507613)

    A study contracted by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was released this month discussing the effects of globalization on poverty. One of the key points to the study was:

    The evidence also shows that international income inequality has narrowed over the past 30 years when countries ' population sizes and the purchasing power of local incomes are considered. The very poorest countries now represent less than 8 per cent of the world 's population compared with just over 45 per cent in 1970.In countries that have embraced the opportunities created by integration with world markets, globalisation has enabled stronger income growth. But national policies have not always been sufficient to ensure that the benefits of this growth are enjoyed by all.

    The study can be found at: www.dfat.gov.au/publications/globe_poverty/index.h tml [dfat.gov.au]

  • Number 347 -- "In fact, it sounds like the early Wired Magazine manifestos about the Net, some of which I wrote."

    Real writers do not feel the need to refer to themselves constantly.

    Real writers can lucidly get a point across; So JonKatz, are you in the Globalization is evil camp or the Globalization is not evil and going to happen anywy camp?
  • by BenHmm (90784) <ben.benhammersley@com> on Thursday November 01, 2001 @01:26PM (#2507665) Homepage
    Ok, oblig disclaimer - I'm white, privately educated, English, live in Kensington, London, and once worked for Rupert Murdoch. Hence, on paper at least, I'm unusually evil.

    Having said that...

    Globalisation can only, in the end, work out as a force for good. I say In The End, so bear with me a second...

    Klein's NoLogo theories (nicely offset by having her name in massive print, and her picture on the back, *sigh*) are nice, but forget the fact that Globalisation works on all levels: education included. As corporations spread across the world, so does the rest of the world come badck to the corporations. Sept11 is an extreme example of this, but so is the Globalisation'd media reporting on Nike sweatshops in Vietnam, or human rights abuses in China. Anything - anything at all - that forces connections between different cultures can only add to increased understanding.

    Whether that understanding is developed in the first instance as a tool to exploit is somewhat irrelevent, because the same globalisation process is used by those who want to help.

    You really only need look at the change in mindset that has been brought round by globalisation. Take a generation or two back - little knowledge of the rest of the world compared with today (well, at least in Europe).

    A silly example: food. Look at food from 30 years ago: Spaghetti Bolognaise was an exotic dish in the UK. Now I can get Sushi at the corner shop. 30 years ago it was John Wayne, now it's John Woo.

    Taco's hobby is obscure Japanese animation, my wife loves African guitar music. THAT is just as much globalisation as the spectre of nasty corporations.
    • Klein's NoLogo theories ... are nice, but forget the fact that Globalisation works on all levels: education included.

      Which is why the term "anti-corporate globalization" is being adopted by certain segments. Katz brings up "corporatism" as a better word for what is taking place than "globalization," which shouldn't refer only to economic globalization.

      Whether that understanding is developed in the first instance as a tool to exploit is somewhat irrelevent, because the same globalisation process is used by those who want to help.

      Be careful; this treads close to an "ends justify the means" argument. Good actions do not necessarily cancel out bad ones automatically; hence, even if activists and reporters swoop in to expose shoe production sweatshops in Indonesia, and possibly lead to greater awareness of the problem in the U.S., possibly leading to pressure on Indonesia's government to force changes... it still doesn't change the fact that shoe companies, among others, are performing exploitation that wouldn't be accepted here. "Do unto others..." covers almost all aspects of life rather well.
      Taco's hobby is obscure Japanese animation, my wife loves African guitar music. THAT is just as much globalisation as the spectre of nasty corporations.

      In fact, this kind of cultural exchange is a large part of what anti-corporatist activists would like to see. I think what a lot of anti-corporatists, myself included, are afraid of is replacing one dictator - government, even that which is supposedly "of the people, by the people, for the people" - and replacing it with another - large corporations that take advantage of weak environmental and labour laws.

      It probably sounds a bit hypocritical to refer to government as a dictator, and then complain about corporations gravitating, when possible, toward places with lax protection laws, but this leads into another point brought up by certain segments of the anti-corporatist movement - that changes in the way we perceive the world around us will have to accompany any kind of economic changes, possibly to the point of eliminating large, monolithic government structures that try to boil down complicated social interactions into even less comprehensible limits, and decentralizing power even more than ever before. This would hinge upon more people figuring out how to properly treat other humans (ie; "Do unto others..."), and becoming aware of how we fit in with the larger world around us (ie; we are a part of it, not above it, still subject to the basic laws that govern life and survival).

      In short, concepts of being nice to our fellow humans, here and abroad, and seeing this planet as more than a resource to be exploited for man's benefit, but a home and a system we rely on to exist, shouldn't need to be regulated - they should be common survival sense.
  • Common Sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by squaretorus (459130)
    The problem with globalisation, or capitalisation, or anything is that people do not apply common sense when purchasing.

    When I buy a bag of coffee grounds I automatically go for the fairtrade bag as I know the grower gets more money than the Kenco bag.

    When I buy apples I buy British ones, not South African, as it makes no sense, to me, to kart apples half way round the world when we grow perfectly good ones at home.

    When I buy clothes I try to establish where they were made before buying - and buy only from reputable manufacturers.

    I'm not saying this is easy, theres not a label on Nikes saying 'sweat shop and child labour likely used to make these', but come on, if we don't buy the products the practices don't make them money.

    I object to Time-Warner-AOL so I don't go to see films, I don't buy magazines or videos by that company if I can avoid it (I buy Fortune - shoot me!).

    I buy 90% of my food from local, often farm, shops. It costs me a couple of extra hours a month in shopping time, and maybe 10% more. I don't drink Coke, I dont eat McD.

    Apply a little common sense. If you think something is wrong have principles. Its not the companies that are at fault - its the man in the street for letting it happen.

    Dont let Bush trash Alaska. Seriously. Don't!
    • I live in Utah and the man on the street isn't "letting it [unfair trade and US ecnonomic imperialism] happen" -- the common man is willing it! There's a kind of right-wing nationalism in many of the "heartland" areas of the U.S. that causes people to shop at Wal-Mart because it is a huge multinational that demonstrates and increases the power and wealth of the United States relative to other countries, and they will openly discuss this.

      For the same reason, many locals will buy Nike and avoid fair trade -- they have been indoctrinated with the sense that the U.S. is a nebulous force for all that is good and other cultures or peoples are a force for all that is bad. To these right-wingers, it is a good thing to see non-whites in sweatshops, because the perception is that they somehow deserve it, because they are (a) not white and (b) not American, ergo not primary parts of "free enterprise and the American way" and are thus evil and against god.

      It is often hard for people from the urban coastal areas to understand and see this attitude until they actually visit the heartland and witness (real example) local schools forbidden from collecting for UNICEF because the city has been declared a "UN-free zone." and there are severe penalties for violation of the exclusion.

  • Is globalism as relentlessly evil and corrupt a force as all those nasty demonstrations in Seattle and Milan would suggest? Anti-globalists sometimes seem to confuse corporatism with globalism, lumping in all sorts of issues under one term.

    The news out of the demonstrations was that thousands of people were protesting so-called "free trade" where representatives of powerful business interests met behind barricades to further the process of allowing multi-national corporations to flout national sovereignty through shadowy, unaccountable organizations that can overrule laws and regulations designed to protect laborers and consumers (i.e. people) as "anti-competitive."

    Quite a number of these protesters promote the idea of "fair trade," i.e. globalism that raises the standard of living for the vast majority of the people on this planet through better working conditions, more healthful products, and a cleaner environment.

    Mr. Katz, if you're gonna rag on people over vocabulary, at least get it right yourself

  • Regionalism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FallLine (12211) <fallline@RASPoperamail.com minus berry> on Thursday November 01, 2001 @01:38PM (#2507739)
    I, for one, get tired of hearing all this hub-bub about how large corporations are "supressing" local culture or somehow magically putting mom-and-pops out of business (with the implication that they're superior). The simple fact of the matter is that, by and large, where these corporations prevail, the corporations are prevailing with the will and consent of each and every one of their customers. The local culture or shop may do one or two things better, but overall, the failing institutions are failing for a reason: the disruptive corporation/culture is providing something the individual prefers, on the aggregate. People don't go and do business with corporations that they think are worse; they shop the shops that do the best by them on the aggregate. These choices are made on a wide variety of grounds: speed, price, selection, quality of service, novelty, consistency, and so on. No matter what poor judgement you feel these choices are made with, they are just that, choices, many of them. Rather than allowing the individual to exercise free will, a vocal minority wants to regulate and legislate this choice out of existence.

    It's the highest form of snobbery and arrogance. If you don't like the choices made, then try to enlighten the individuals; bring hard evidence to the table. If you feel the companies are succeeding because of unethical practices, then fight those unethical practices and/or push for greater transparency.....But do NOT try to assert your value system on other people by force and the rule of law. It's unfair and inefficient.
    • This is flawed logic which places profit and commerce above the needs of society on both macrocosmic and microcosmic scales.

      Following this logic to its logical conclusion, the heroin trade may be the best business ever. The customers can't seem to get enough, the profits are huge, and there's a lovely international network to foster understanding. It's all very efficient indeed.

  • Don't be, it will all clear up in the next episode of "Soap", er JonKatz...

    Seriously, though, it seems to me that the trend towards globalization at least partially stems from an economic fundamental: people (all of them) are trying to increase their utility (that's econ-speak for health, happiness, money, and everything you might want bundled into 1 quantifiable mathematical construct). This means that corporations want to go after other markets (to market their products, lower their costs, etc), and people in other countries see the prosperity in the west and in particular in the US and want to mimick it. I say this as a respectful resident alien (who invented that term? I'm pretty sure I have no antennae). It is a natural process that people will freely choose. The only way it will reverse is if by some miracle other markets become unattractive to corporations at the same time as their inhabitants' standard of living increases. This is a little bit of a contradiction...
  • I respectfully disagree, because until equality of human rights is guaranteed, there is no level playing field.

    Your point seems to be that "so long as a nation is willing to allow their citizens to be exploited, there will be healthy competition" -- instead of the idea being "so long as there is healthy competition, the playing field can be leveled". The fact is, governments can either work for or against healthy competition, capitalism can either work for or against healthy competition, and even "big business" can work for or against healthy competition. Gee, a theme here... leading to the further question of "what is healthy competition?"

    My definition: healthy competition raises the level of all those participating in the competitive process -- which is where most big businesses and gov'ts fail. [Notice that I deliberately left out 'capitalists', because they are usually allied with one of the two other groups -- and it is often the capitalists who find ways of leveling the playing field -- by investing in the newer competitors to the established concerns.]

    Then we come to the idea that taxes are something stolen from a citizen to help a business. Face it, in the 21st century, taxes are what we use to pay for services we all want, but usually with less efficiency and much more corruption than the private market would deliver. However -- no private company seems eager to provide an equality of services to all comers like fair governments are ostensibly supposed to do.

    The system falls apart when instead of the common good, governments, capitalists, and big businesses only look to further their own interests, regardless of the damage done to those outside their respective domains. In other words, by participating in unhealthy competition in which one set of participants must lose (and lose regularly) in order for the other side to gain.

    Thus my contention is that it isn't free trade that will "save the world", but equitable trade -- for example, that allows a well run farm in Iowa to get a fair price for his products without requiring that a well run farm in France go out of business. With true globalism -- both farms must improve to compete -- so the issue isn't trade -- but unfair trade -- which is where we come back into agreement.

    IMO most multinational companies aren't interests in free trade-- they are interested in gaining unfair advantage for their own constituent interests. Usually making their alliance with government interests suspect at best and undeniably evil at worst.

  • Greater picture (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FireWoman (17997)
    Regardless of whether globalization is good or evil,
    from the point of view of the little guy, globablization appears synonymous with the words 'You will be assimilated'

  • I won't discuss the issue, as I feel that the discussion that is already posted is VERY good. I hope that everyone will read some of the great responses to this article.

    Here is a good website discussion the issues concerning world trade. They are against, mind you.

    http://www.citizen.org/trade/index.cfm [citizen.org]

  • This issue is far less complicated than people make it out to be. We don't live in an amoral vacuum--there are absolute rights and wrongs (goodness and evils) which define issues such as this. To deny the existance of an absolute truth and absolute moral standard is to declare one's own insanity by a mere logical fallacy. So given this construct, I think we all would agree that:

    - Greed, the pursuit of excess beyond our own comfortable survival and at the expense of others, is wrong.

    - Environmental gluttony, a form of greed of the earth's finite resources which as the human race we must respectfully steward, is wrong.

    - Exploitation of human life for ones gain, yet another form of greed, is wrong.

    - Constriction of human rights and freedoms for ones own gain or lust for power, such as performed by the Taliban or the riaa/mpaa/etc, is wrong.

    So does this mean that "globalism" is good or bad? Neither. To generalize is to be an idiot. It's not globalism but the approach taken. If that approach is one of the philosophy that people matter and that ethics come before economics, there is nothing wrong with it. So for example, if a multinational corp. sets up business in a poverty stricken country and in the process of supporting itself, builds infrastructure in that country that improves the quality of life for its people--hence giving back to the community--this can only be seen as a very good thing. Does it usually happen this way? Probably not. But that doesn't mean it can't be done this way. So in the end, it all comes back to greed. It's as simple as that. So fight greed, not globalization.

    - "But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."
    • I'm not saying that greed is a *virtue*, but how is it morally wrong, unless you are literally depriving someone else of their fundamental human rights in the process?

      The only thing I'd agree with in your list of moral "absolutes" is that you shouldn't constrict fundamental human rights and freedoms. But as much as I may hate the RIAA/MPAA cabal, I certainly wouldn't put them on a list of human-rights violators because they are trying to prevent folks from stealing media products that don't belong to them...

  • by leereyno (32197) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @02:09PM (#2507942) Homepage Journal
    If by globalization you mean the spread of information and knowledge between nations, companies, individuals, etc. then that is a good thing. The sharing of knowledge from western industrialized countries with our less fortunate neighbors is obviously a good thing to do. But when you're talking about corporations and governments working to extend their control then that is a very bad thing.

    Just as a monopoly is a bad thing, so is a single conglomerate, or a club of corporations, with their fingers in too many pies. Power should always be decentralized and spread as thinly as possible. When this is the case freedom is possible. When too much power is held in the hands of too few, tyrrany and abuse of that power is the result. This is why what is commonly called globalization is such a threat. The consolidation of power into the hands of a small group of corporations and governments whose goals and agenda's are too much aligned leaves anyone whose goals aren't the same very much out in the cold and possibly in great danger.

    Lee
  • democracy as a ruse (Score:3, Interesting)

    by markhahn (122033) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @02:13PM (#2507976)
    democracy has become a motherhood/apple-pie thing - it's not even a concept, it's more of a nebulous emotional state. why has it gained this unquestioned positive spin? democracy is mostly a way for incapacitating government, for avoiding putting too much power in one place. all elections are marketing competitions. sure, occasionally there's some politico who actually has something on his agenda besides being elected/reelected. but the nature of democracy, at least parlimentary forms, means that the few principled participants will be inherently dilluted by useless, photogenic seatwarmers.

    this is great for globalization, since ineffectual government avoids doing anything dramatic to multinationals, except the usual extortion/tax.

    what's missing? the real goal should be liberty, not democracy. sure, democracy might be a means to liberty, but it's NOT THE GOAL. they're orthogonal - liberty is about policy (principles); democracy is about mechanism.

    there's a "meta-politics" that's not being discussed - that's why this is such a fuzzy topic. why is terrorism wrong? what is the real conflict between the West and Taliban-style fundamentalism? the principle of individual liberty - that if you want to live a Wahabi life, you're perfectly free to do so in the West. you just can't coerce someone else into doing it. liberty/non-coercion is what we should be talking about, not democracy.

    and this is relevant to the undercurrent of discussion about how the net will effect society in the future. it's obvious that strong crypto, peer-to-peer, net-communities are powerful forces that, in the absence of some kind of apocalypse of talibanhood, will become dominant. they have a sense of historic inevitability. they're also profoundly liberty-based, self-organizing, non-coercive. even anti-authoritarian. and globalizing.

    but how can that be? wasn't seattle supposed to be the rise of a non-hierarchical, self-organized political force devoted to overthrowing globalization? there's a contradiction there: absence of hierarchically imposed limits are what permits these anti-globalization people to demonstrate. (and demonstration != democracy!) the anti-globalization freaks are opposed to commerce being the "working fluid" of globalization. it's not the multinationals that they oppose, it's the fact that MN's are based on an international currency market that in effect makes my 8-hours of labor in the West incomparable to 8 hours of labor by someone in the 3rd world. this seems irrational to me, or at least based on principles I don't share (ie, more "from each according to his ability" rather than "to each according to the market price of his ability").

    if online/crypto is a globalizing force, it's not necessarily going to cause a redistribution of wealth, or a replacement of property as the measure of wealth. and that's the tip of another iceberg - that some people want ideas to become as ownable as property; not surprising, these "idea hegemonists" are large, Western, multinational corporations...

  • by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @02:56PM (#2508264) Homepage
    We have people on one side, saying globalization is the only way for third-world countries to climb into the light of financial security is globalization and free trade.

    We have people on the other side, saying large companies exploit the resoruces and workforces of small countries, all in the name of profit.

    Guess what? They're both right.

    One facet of lassez-faire economics is that "capital goes where it is respected and appreciated." If a country's government promises that investments won't be stolen or confiscated, and backs up those oaths, then investments will be made and industry will develop. If investors fear the loss of their capital (especially when other investors have had assets nationalized previously), they will invest in business elsewhere, and that country will not have the opportunity to build industry. Government-sponsored industry growth works about as well as government-sponsored projects anywhere -- poorly. It takes the watchful eye of someone risking his own assets to run a truly successful business.

    *gasp* But then the big corporations move in, building factories, mining out the land, paying piss-poor wages, exploiting the country! The free market doesn't work! We can't let these things happen!

    I don't deny these incidents happen. But the fact is, they don't happen because of the free market. Many large corporations are mercenary in protecting their interests, and happily exploit corruptible government officials to further their bottom lines. When soldiers move in to suppress labor actions, or land is confiscated to build factories, this isn't an action of lassez-faire economics but of government interference.

    It is easy to heap blame on the companies involved in such activities, but that wouldn't be the proper target for eliminating the problem. If graft and greed are the rules of the game, a corporation that won't play can't compete with one who does. Without the cooperation of corrupt officials, and a governmental system able to carry out the deeds, this interference couldn't happen.

    The libertarian solution would therefore be to open a free market in property and labor and keep it open, while limiting the scope of a country's government to a point where its resources could not be misused to exploit its citizens.

    Let me add that this is opposed to the World Bank's solution, which is to simply throw cash at governments, while trying to impose rules that keep them from confiscating capital. This replaces voluntary investments, where capitalists would be making sure their assets were used in the most effective ways, with involuntary investments (of tax revenues, yours and mine no less) that the government has no personal interest in protecting. And then they wonder why their intervention flops.
  • ...before making a decision on how they feel about globalization. It seems that the majority of people who are against globalization are the ones who don't even have a firm grasp on the facts, and I'm not saying that I do either, but at least I'm open to it. It seems a lot of people see the images of the protesters being sprayed with fire hoses and shot with rubber bullets and immediately get the idea that globalization is this evil, evil entity that's trying to take away their rights or something equally absurd. I'm definently ill-informed when it comes to this topic but that's all the more reason I shouldn't jump to conclusions.

    Please, before posting your rambling manifestos about the vile evils that abound in a future of globalization, do a little research and try and see both sides of the argument.

  • by andr0meda (167375) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @04:52PM (#2509121) Homepage Journal
    One thing many people fail to asses is that the anti-globalist organisation is in fact violence free in it's essence. Much like Marxism you could say, it stands for a general awakening, a reveille the french say, of just common sense. It wants to bring back the power to the consumer, and restore the balance of power, in favour to the people instead of to the companies. One could remark that there is probably nothing more beautifull to the movement than a new-born fight to regain the rights and 'values' of the people. In fact, the anti-globalist's movement is a global movement around the world. There is nothing anti-global to it. It's like greanpeace and the WWF.

    Of course, what happened in Milan and Helsinki is not what the movement is about. Those events were programmed by trouble-makers that seized the opportunity to pick a fight and express their general malcontentcy, while remaining virtually incognito under the unfamiliar umbrella of so many other unknown organisations that meant no harm, except to the present system.

    You could say that, in many regards, Bin Laden has used the political and econmical structures of financial power to his advantage, and the globalists were (and are) warning against exactly that kind of a system, where sense of the word 'control' is taboo'd, except when it's about people's consumer behaviours. If you hold meetings between steel barred fences about economical issues and there's a crowd yelling outside, I get can't help but think about a book written a long time ago, which was perceived as groundbreaking and very important at it's time, called 'Brave New World'. Have we simply forgotten our arts and sciences, our good common sense? Have we morphed into brainless consumers that are addicted to TV's and MacDonnalds more than anything else? Does everybody just care about anything but our family and our job and hollidays? If we care about tomorrow's world, the world our children have to deal with, then in my opinion it would simply be totally irresponsible to the 'just stick with your own life is good enough for me' attitude. Granted, there's not much you can do, but a positive attitude is worth much more than you can possibly imagine. And that positive attitude, that anger about what's wrong with the world, that calling for change, is what the globalists are truely about.


    Democracy's spread has now in fact created a bloody confrontation with fundamentalism, a holy war. Both sides refer to one another in evil blasphemers. Lost in this confrontation is the idea that Democracy isn't only about multi-national markets, cheap labor and business opportunities...[..]


    This probably the most horendous statement in this provocative and therefor worthless assessment of Mr. John Katz, who I normally do not disrespect at all. In case Katz had fallen asleep, the war is firstly not against fundamentalism, but against terrorism. If the war is against fundamentalism, why don't we start arresting Amish people, Christian Tv networks and more of this kind of shit first.. I mean, if the war is against fundamentalism, then the war is against a kind of patriotism that does happen to be in line with the kind of patriotism US citizens stand for. And who are we to draw a line for the good and bad, who are we to proclaim a culture better or worse than the other. Katz rethori is intentionally provocative, and he wants discussion on topics that are indeed important, but by relentlessly draggin attention to these issues, people get even more black/white and you end up with the very fundamentalism we are supposed to be at war with. Sorry John no hard feelings. Next time, do one better for me.

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