Iran’s Mehr News agency has a few things to say about globalization today. For a globalist like me, even I have to concede they have a point. Too much exploitation has gone on in an effort to fool nations outside the ﬁrst world.
From an outsider’s perspective, Iran should seriously consider complying with IAEA requests if it has nothing to hide—but it is still interesting to see globalization advanced as a reason the nation has been working on nuclear power. However, I shall be interested to learn from our Iranian neighbours if they view the IAEA as an instrument of the west, out to harm them—because that, too, is worth learning about. We need to understand where the differences in our viewpoints really lie and, like so many things, I don’t think it’s in the obvious that the media and respective governments tell us about.
On many counts the Iranian news service is right, if we leave politics aside and concentrate on its globalization message. How many times has a wonderful new principle been coopted by establishment thinking? In recent times, some questionable ﬁrms have got on board the “sustainable” bandwagon. Triple-bottom-line, I am told, can be subject to trickery as much as other accounting methods. To read in an Iranian news service that its correspondent believes the west uses the globalization banner while plundering a host country’s resources does not seem to be too left-ﬁeld when one considers the experiences of sweat shop workers.
While I advocate what I call moral globalization, which almost seems naïve four years on, I also believe in cleaning our own doorsteps. And if we don’t have our faults pointed out, we may never know how we hurt others—even if listening to criticism about yourself is not the easiest thing to do. Groups such as the National Labor Committee do that well. But has anything changed?
Each decade we say that the next will be the caring and sharing one. We actually get worse: at the end of each decade, we ﬁnd out the last one has been “the me decade”. It shouldn’t take a crisis to spur us to act. We should be able to do that, fuelled by our own desire to live our life purpose and leave the world in better shape than how we found it.
But the turn of this decade—this century—brought with it hope in the form of citizens being able to share their experiences. The blogosphere has turned from a world of “people with diaries” to commentaries, op-eds and cutting-edge thinking. In these blogs we share viewpoints, we criticize one another, but I hope we ﬁnd out our similarities over our differences. We discover some common enemies out there—and possibly discover that the institutionalization of human endeavour slows down our progress. As individuals, most of us want interactions that are mutually beneﬁcial, without a quest for organizational power. The difference is, at least in most of the ﬁrst and a good part of the second world, we have a voice. It is our task to act: we can’t leave it to those who don’t have a voice in the third world.
So to act, I have my personal bans against companies that I think are hurting the world. I retain hope in conversations begun on the blogosphere between regular people, even if there are some right nutters out there, too. Dialogue can reveal truth.
Del.icio.us tags: globalization | global | institutionalization | dialogue | Iran | networking Posted by Jack Yan, 00:31
Very interesting post Jack. I find myself constantly trying to find the good in globalization but often have a very hard time in coming up with anything. I hadn't heard of "moral globalization" before—it's a very interesting concept. I'd be curious to know your opinion about Life and Debt or The Corporation.
Take care, Peter
Hi Peter: thank you. The moral globalization concept is mine—in a nutshell, it’s simply asking people to treat others with respect and to carry out what globalists proclaim. I haven’t read either title yet, Peter—I had a “lost year” so I am behind on my usual reading.
However, I know the premise behind The Corporation and it is not unlike that underpinning the opening chapters of The Divine Right of Capital. I agree with how corporations are formed and that they have a duty today to make money for shareholders. But it is possible for a corporation to act socially responsibly—if the long term is considered. Hewlett Packard is an example Simon Anholt (in Brand New Justice) cites with its E-initiatives programme: by telling shareholders it’s helping third world countries, through which they can become future consumers, shareholders are more convinced that there is a win–win.
Unlike Mr Bakan, I believe everyday folks will have greater power to communicate the reality—blogs are excellent examples (thank you for linking me, incidentally)—and corporations will be forced to change.
It’s easy to become impatient, as little has changed so far; and Wall Street still demands quarterly reporting in this time of fear. The “tipping point” will come, but I imagine that will require a great deal more people communicating as individuals and equally, e.g. through blogs and email, and force the changes needed from corporations.
Perhaps the good in globalization is that the voices that were once marginalized have a chance at being heard. I don’t forget those who are still being marginalized in many nations—but as we spread the word, we get more people visiting affected places, and, I hope, acting on these issues.
At the very least it gets us thinking globally and that people halfway around the world are our neighbours. I have a friend who, for instance, has started a school in Tanzania—something she might not have done if there was not enough communication coming from there in the ﬁrst place or a global mindset that has been brought on by globalization advocates.
Peter, this article in The Washington Post may be of interest, on how NAFTA slanted things against Mexico, ‘[increasing] investment opportunities for major corporations and diminished the rights, power and, in many instances, living standards of workers on both sides of the border.’
Update: George Papandreou of Socialist International discusses ‘democratic globalization’ in today’s Daily Star in Lebanon. He highlights some more of the problems.
"I believe everyday folks will have greater power to communicate the reality—blogs are excellent examples (thank you for linking me, incidentally)—and corporations will be forced to change."
Jack: I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Sometimes it is really easy to forget the power of communication and dialog—short and long-term, both can prompt some incredible positive change. One of the things that has really stayed with me from The Corporation was the concept of losing the ability to promote change if you remove yourself from a dysfunctional situation. If you stick it out and focus on continual change and positive progress, you have far more power than if you throw up your hands and walk out the door.
The article you linked to is quite interesting. I found the following to be particularly appropriate: "There can be no real democracy when we have a massive concentration of capital and power in the hands of the few; when multinational corporations challenge the power of democratically elected representatives; when organized criminals can buy off police officers, judges, and politicians; when monopolization of the media erodes fundamental freedoms."
That’s an excellent point, Peter. On the one hand we can save ourselves angst and walk away—but is that going to help a greater amount of people in the long run? I am one who toughs it out, because interaction can ensure some degree of change—and walk away only after I’ve given things a good shot. Similarly, having dialogue with people who might not agree with you can suck away energy—but if both parties are open-minded, they can ultimately be rewarding. I just hope there are enough people who think this way.Post a Comment
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