Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thoughts On Globalization and Terrorism, & Adbusters

Below are two longer quotes from Christopher Hayes' article in The New Republic Free Traitors:

Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, agrees, saying that the proper response to the anxieties about globalization "lies in changes in our domestic policy: universal portable health insurance, portable pensions, much better unemployment insurance. ... We just have to do a better job of dealing with the downsides, and the costs, and the losers."


Lawrence Summers, who served as President Clinton's treasury secretary during the headiest days of free-trade enthusiasm, is now having some very public second thoughts. Writing in the Financial Times, he noted that globalization "encourages the development of stateless elites whose allegiance is to global economic success and their own prosperity rather than the interests of the nation where they are headquartered." In a subsequent column, he concluded that the "domestic component of a strategy to promote healthy globalisation must rely on strengthening efforts to reduce inequality and insecurity. The international component must focus on the interests of working people in all countries, in addition to the current emphasis on the priorities of global corporations."

Globalization was sold in the spirit of reciprocal benefit, that is at the heart of all contracts, really. But what the neoliberals have come to realize is that the benefits must be to people and the places those people live in. This article is great in some ways, but it does so little to point out who has been saying this for years: the very people who are now considered terrorists in many parts of the world. Prime example being the Zapatistas in Chiapa, Mexico. Why did they rise in arms nearly 15 years ago? Because that was the day NAFTA went into effect and exacerbated the destruction of their local community by taking away their land and then bringing the northerners and multinational corporations into their homes, and not offering the indigenous anything but prostitution and squalor.

Why is piracy so rampant off the coast of Somalia? Because in the wake of the collapse of Somalia's government, tuna boats from all over the world came to pillage their resources. Initially these were simply fisherman scaring away these looters, but the world's governments continued to ignore this raping and so those fisherman became reinforced in their vigilante groups. Now they have the world's attention. They may be called pirates here, but they would simply be terrorists in Israel or Afghanistan.

Adam Smith stated blunty that the Invisible Hand is not the mechanism which ensures that all benefit in the free market, it is the constant pursuit of Justice in the marketplace that ensures that free market capitalism is a boon to humanity. Absent Justice, capitalism seeks to destroy humanity. There was a great Adbusters campaign ten years ago that pointed this out:

"everytime someone gets cancer, the American GDP increases, everytime a tree is cut down the GDP goes up... perhaps economists need to learn how to subtract."

I just went looking for the video and found this really great page. Not a site, just one page that points out that Adbusters promised a lot and simply sucks. It really does. I really wanted it to work, too; but they get the simply worst writers and then publish their screed in these really cool looking design rags. Don't you see, Adbusters, you've become a design rag, not a political intervention. Check out Rtmark, I feel they're keeping it real-er.

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