Globalization: The Problem

Betsy Bowman, Ph.D.

Teatro Santa Ana Biblioteca Public, San Miguel de Allende, March 19, 2004.

Welcome to this first of two lectures on introducing globalization.  Alternatives to corporate globalization will be the topic of the inaugural event of the research and learning center coming August here in San Miguel. We scheduled this first lecture today because tomorrow is March 20, a day for voicing opposition around the world to the war around the world – a global demonstration like the one on February 15, 2003. Here in San Miguel, the Peace Center has organized an event.  We’ll see there is a connection between globalization and the war.
I will lay out the problem of globalization and next week Bob Stone will discuss some solutions that have been offered.  Globalization is not just the neutral or even positive phenomenon the appellation suggests, it is a problem, a big one.  I’ll discuss it in eight steps-

First, I’m going to start with some definitions, frameworks in which we can think about  globalization.  Then, I’ll sketch the two economic systems we have in the world today. Thirdly, I’ll lay out some history and introduce some players.  Like the circus clown who keeps 10 balls in the air, we must keep in mind international institutions, transnational corporations, international trade treaties, and historical events. Then fourthly, I’ll assess results of economic globalization. Fifthly, I’ll advance an hypothesis to explain why certain phenomena of globalization are happening now. Sixthly, we’ll look at the US balance of payments crisis, seventh at how it might be solved, and finally, at interconnections between globalization and the US war in Iraq.

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The Global Tribute System

by Betsy Bowman


The three interlocking crises looming over the planet – the ecological, the economic and the political — like Edgar Allen Poe’s pendulum inexorably come closer every day.

If the focus of the entire world immediately turned to building renewable energy grids and renewable fuels, we would still not be able to stave off all the climate change that is happening. We might be able to stave off the worst.

If we put everyone involved in the financial collapse in jail and expropriated their ill-gotten gains, there would still be millions of people unemployed and millions whose homes have been foreclosed. There are billions of marginalized, unemployed desperate people around the world who risk slaughter if they bring attention to their plight.

If our elected representatives complied with the wishes of the voters rather than the corporations, the ethos of disgust, discouragement and despair would still infect the body politic.

Regardless, we try. In what follows, I explain clearly and concisely what has happened in the U.S. and the global economy over the last 65 years and why we are facing austerity. We are facing austerity because the top 1% — the international financial capitalist elite around the world – runs most of the governments, the international organizations, the international financial organizations and they want the rest of the world to continue paying tribute – giving their surplus – to them. This is the natural evolution of capitalism. Like in the game Monopoly, one player ends up owning everything. But, there is an alternative. The alternative is to make all banking and credit facilities public and force the current cast of banksters to take their losses. But first we need to understand how we got here. I explain for the non-economist how we have gotten to our present collapsing standard of living and the further enrichment of the top 1%.

By standard of living I don’t mean per capita GDP (gross domestic product) and the amount of consumption we can arrogate to ourselves. I mean our deteriorating eco-system, our war-ravaged and violence-plagued societies, our miserable lives of fear, insecurity, oppression and exploitation, our collapsing hopes for collective fulfillment of human potential. This global problem is the result of conscious, government policies; it was designed and orchestrated. It was not an accident.

Only just under half a century ago, under the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s, the government sponsored a “war on poverty.” The national ethos was one of helping others, believing in the intrinsic equality of all humans and using government fiscal policy to compensate those not born to luxury so they could earn a good education and fulfill their own potential. This is humanity’s heritage from the Enlightenment of the 18th Century. Liberty, equality and brotherhood for all. The modern project of actually realizing this human heritage has been attacked many times, but never so viciously and successfully as now. Today’s ethos is a return to the ethos of monarchies. We are no longer citizens of a republic, but we are subjects of corporations and the oligarchy that controls everything. This profound change was designed and orchestrated. It was not an accident.

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Free Trade vs Democracy  

Cliff DuRand  (Feb 2016)

President Obama is poised to sign an international agreement that will limit sovereignty and override many of our laws and regulations.  It’s called the TransPacific Partnership.  It will then be presented to Congress for ratification under a fast track procedure that will allow only 20 hours of debate and no amendments.  TPP was negotiated in secret among 12 Pacific rim countries with major input from 600 transnational corporations, but no input from the public or our Congressional representatives.  But it will require them to change U.S. laws protecting the environment, food safety, internet freedom, labor protection, consumer rights and more.  

It’s most controversial provision is it allows foreign corporations to sue the government for lost expected profits due to democratically enacted measures even though they protect a legitimate public interest.  International panels, operating in secret, will decide how much we have to pay corporations for democracy. 

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Socialist Internationalism and Capitalist Globalization

To view the talk click here

Bob Ware, Prof. Emeritus (Univ. of Calgary), Vancouver


Socialists shouldn’t be for anti-globalization. They have always thought globally and promoted internationalism. Internationalism is more necessary today and made possible more readily.

With some allusions to early socialists, especially Marx, I argue that globalization has changed and calls for new forms of internationalism. I try to build on the history of socialist activism internationally, on ideas from socialist fundamentals, and on contemporary international organizations to draw some lessons about what socialist internationalism should be at the dawn of the 21st century.

I will consider some new and better forms of socialist internationalism against capitalist globalization.

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