Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What Are We Reacting To?

“The global economy -- and the expansion of the global economy -- is related to the expansion of militarization in the world." Tony Clarke, director of the NGO Polaris Institute
During President Bush’s consecutive speeches I wondered to myself: “why has terrorism grown?” Globalism is a tricky issue. This word is often thrown around casually and takes on many definitions. The most common definition suggests that globalism, as we are seeing it today, is a natural result of technology, trade and the mixing of cultures which will work to create a global culture devoid of major differences between people and cultures. People in China will drink Coke while wearing Gap tee-shirts and the entire world will gladly watch reruns of the Love Boat. Emphasis is often placed on the cultural result—one big happy world where values are all the same. On the opposite side of this divide are those who are fighting this trend—desperately hanging on to their unique cultures, values and ways of life. Center to all of this is economics. Global economics is not a new thing although it is often package as a singularly modern phenomenon. What are new are the multitude forms of technology that effects global economics as well as multi-national institutions put in place after WWII such as the World Bank and, recently, the WTO. These institutions draw up and enforce a global insistence on trade and economics that work to push countries into the “modern” world of neoliberal economics and multinational corporate globalization. A tend towards privatization occurs where people are pushed out of the commons and forced into a world of “individuals” competing for their own little piece of the pie. It is a Hobbian vision of the natural state of economic nature. But this state is not natural or necessary, it is a constructed choice. As I have heard the argument go: Some people just work harder than others and so they have a better life. This is a neoliberal economic argument that suggests the harder we work the bigger piece of the pie we will get. It is what we Americans call the “American Dream” and it is an argument that, in reality, holds little weight. I can assure you that no one works harder than a housekeeper of a large hotel or a tomato picker who has to beg for one more cent per a bucket of tomatoes. They work and they work and they work and still they will not gain that “American dream.” When looking at the increase of terrorism and the increase in government dissatisfaction, it is important to look past the multitude of issues resulting and see the underlying problem. We must ask why people are reacting the way they are reacting all over the world. Sometimes these issues seem only local and other times, like with Iraq and war, they appear global. The truth is simply that all the issues are connected. We are a great web of interconnected realities where my choice to buy a piece of clothing from Nepal effects, directly, the people living in Nepal and reinforces a mode of reality. I am not speaking simply of sweat shops, but of the whole web of realities that result from trade agreements, sanctions, national loans and multi-corporate globalization. Language and fear is used to reinforce these modes of existence. Today it is the war on terror but we forget why this war is occurring. It is too simple to say it is because of “religious fanatics.” It is more accurate to say it is because of an instance on a certain mode of economic reality which threatens the way of life of many peoples and cultures. Instead of focusing on the splinter issues that arises, we need to focus on the underlying problem and try to figure out a way to fix that problem. Bandage solutions are not the answer. Disarming Trade So, how do we fix this problem? Suggestions?

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