Globalisation: Which One?

For some people globalisation is a sort of god, or the FACTOR, which – with the help of the markets – is going to solve all our problems. The gurus of liberalism or neo-liberalism have been proclaiming this since the Eighties. This means, for those who live on the wrong side of the planet, or of society, globalisation has brought them very precarious jobs; they get  lowly paid and have no rights.


Fortunately, there are other groups which insist that another World is possible. They want a globalisation that is raised on the basis of the economic, social and political infrastructures which have been developed in the last centuries. It has to reinforce itself on these infrastructures and, at the same time, adapt those to the new necessities. This also requires us to design new social-political means so as to avoid that technological progress becomes a calamity and causes too much unemployment. This social/technological progress could mean for today’s society the opportunity to take a big step forward.


The economic understanding, which started in previous centuries, has, until recently, had to reckon continuously with the scarcity of goods – today our battle will consist of looking for new means to improve distribution, which will better suit the possibilities we have at the beginning of the 21st  century, and make better use of our technologies and our factories which, in fact, can produce more than we need. It is clear that today, neither the USA nor Europe, have at their disposal the economic and social or political means or tools that allow them to adapt themselves to the consequences of our technological progress. And here I have to emphasize: we have to look for them, we have not found them yet.   


Of course we can also go on rat-racing each other to death. If the neo-liberals rule on,  human beings will fail to develop the new tools and ideas for the present economic situation. Then we will be overpowered by lack of imagination and laziness. – Here follows an enumeration of  some chimeras; chimeras that are often wrapped up in a cloak, one loves to call "globalisation":


·         Globalisation is presented as something impenetrable; very complex, only very few people can understand. – Under "globalisation" I understand the technological, economic and social development, we have experienced, in a global way, in these last decades. Several associations between different countries have been created, that can be called transnational. The European Union, which is still in an early phase of development, can serve as an example of such a transnational association.

·         In the liberal press, for example in "The Economist", they often convey the impression that, the notably  big rise in importance of the services, will create enough jobs for our needs. This is a raw conception that refuses to acknowledge the consequences of all the jobs, we have lost in industry lately. The hope that this big rise is going to solve not only today’s but also tomorrow’s problems, has a crippling effect since it induces many to stop looking for other solutions.  

·         The opinion we could solve the problem of unemployment, if we only succeed in reducing the wages enough, is an opinion which has thrown wide open the doors to all pirates, and to all smart or stupid thugs there are on Earth. It is also responsible for enslaving more and more people in the so-called Third World. Those who represent this concept are working systematically on introducing de-regulation; they impose zones that are "free of trade Unions". Thus they create jobs, in which the workers or employees have no possibility of defending their rights. The USA, on their part, have shown how the new jobs that have been created there, oblige the worker, who takes up to two or three of these "badly-paid" jobs, to work and move around for more than 14 hours a day just to survive.

·         The dogma or the tantra, which is the blind faith of all its keen followers, that pretends more or less, that in the era of globalisation, the markets are going to solve all our problems. This gospel is being uttered and propagated since the eighties. Today, at the beginning of the XXI. century, we know that the zeal to de-regulate serves certain specific interests of the rich and powerful.


In the last two decades the liberal – or neo-liberal – school of thought and its disciples, i.e. the majority of politicians of our representative democracies, have increased, in great parts of the world, "COMMON MISERY". A democratic system, however, sees in the necessity to create "COMMON WEALTH" for its citizens, a main challenge and commitment.  


Christian Bongard


Barcelona, March 2002


P.S. Some of the thoughts expressed here, have been influenced by the book "What is Globa-lisation? Errors of Globalism – Answers to Globalisation." written by Ulrich Beck. Edited in 1997 in Frankfurt, Suhrkamp Editions.


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