Globalization is perhaps the most important issue for agriculture. I
too, (and many political conservatives) would like to see stronger local
decision-making. But by casting the fundamentally cultural phenomenon
of globalization as a political plot by the elite, you have
oversimplified it, and ultimately have overlooked the dynamics that
restrict and undercut local decision-making.
> Mark Richie, of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy,
> defines globalization as the process, currently proceeding at
> breakneck speed, which allows corporations to freely move their money,
> factories and products around the planet.
This is only a small part of globalization. The fundamental currency is
information, and money is just one kind of information. Other kinds
include values, expectations, hopes, and knowledge. People are coming
to share a liberal-progressive worldview (in the sense of the
Enlightenment). Vestiges of nationalism remain, but more and more, many
people see themselves as world citizens. This is probably an inevitable
consequence of communication.
> As an ideology, globalization is largely unfettered by patriotism or
> by ethical or moral considerations. Simply put, it is the process by
> which corporations intend to rule the world.
Globalization, or cultural hegemony if you will, is an almost
irresistable force, but it is not an ideology. Rather it results from
our instinct to seek out the mainstream, the in-group, to be where the
action is. People who manage corporations are not leading this. They
want to exploit globalization, but they didn't create it.
> Globalization is pursued with near religious zeal by its true
> believers who are mostly top-level corporate managers (and their
> political and PR lackeys).
When my wife and I were travelling to live in Colombia over a decade
ago, we met a couple of teenagers, and became good friends. One of the
favors we did them was to transcribe the words of U.S. popular music, to
which they were devoted. Are they "true believers"? How about the
street vendors selling Chinese digital watches for $2? They may not be
much different than the top-level corporate managers! All trying to
make a buck.
> Globalization's proponents believe that it makes sense for us to get
> our fruit from Chile and Indonesia, our clothes from Bangladesh and
> Vietnam and our toys from China and Korea, for example.
When I go to the store to buy, shoes, for example, I tend to buy the
best I can for the money. If some guy in China can do it cheaper than a
U.S. worker, why shouldn't I buy the shoes from China?
> the auto worker strikes in France and Flint, Michigan are the early
> reactions of ordinary people to the pain of globalization.
These are reactions of special interests trying to hang on to their
relatively big slice of the pie.
> The main purpose of these tools is to provide corporations almost
> complete freedom, without allegiance to anything other than higher
> profits. Decisions that were once made democratically in this country
> are now made by global bodies comprised of corporate representatives
> and unelected bureaucrats.
The decisions that ordinary people make at the market supercede
decisions made by bureacrats. How about my freedom to buy the kind of
VCR I want? Or suppose I want to start a seed company, producing
vegetable seed in the Pacific Northwest (with considerable advantage in
quality). Who are you to tell me or my customers not to engage in
> One dear price of corporate freedom is our loss of control over
> critical environmental, social and economic issues.
Unfortunately, this may be true, not because of freedom itself, but by
the interaction of regional competition with freedom. Local planners
and policy makers (and ordinary citizens) are afraid to restrict trade
because their region could become a poor backwater. And you can always
find local people somewhere, willing to tolerate environmental
degredation to make a buck.
IMO restriction of freedom and fanning the flames of nationalism are not
viable long term solutions. The challenge for planners and policy
makers is to find ways to include the cost of externalities in the price
of goods and services. The political issues include pricing of the
externalities and determining how much non-local people should pay for
local environmental degredation.
> Mr. Ritchie provides a more wholesome alternative - globalism. He
> defines globalism as, "the belief that we share one fragile planet the
> survival of which requires mutual respect and careful treatment of the
> earth and of all its people. Globalism, like all values and ethical
> beliefs, requires active practice in our day-to-day lives.
Now you're talking ideology! I agree with your values, but contrasting
this particular set of values with the cultural process of globalization
is like comparing apples and oranges. The exchange of values across the
globe cannot be neatly separated from the exchange of other kinds of
information, such as market transactions.
> Limiting the power of corporations and the collusion between
> corporations and government were very important to the founders of
> this country. But, gradually, with the immortal patience of the
> corporate structure, these entities have assumed the status of wealthy
> supercitizens in this country, influencing government much more than
> private citizens can.
IMO, the looming challenge is how to regulate business in the
international context. This will probably involve treaties etc, rather
than some sort of global government. The difficulty, again, is
competition between nation-states. I would like to hear your specific
suggestions on how you think the power of corporations should be
> The most revolutionary thing we can do this July Fourth is to become
> more firmly local.
Unfortunately, most people are not going to go along with this. You are
fighting human nature. IMO the long term solution will involve creative
policy to ensure that externalities are included in price.
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