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Thoughts thoughts on globalization
the myth of the global village

Read Stephen Clarke on globalization and Gillian Bassett on the 'global village' My thoughts on globalization

In my view I have mixed feelings towards globalization. On the one hand it is a good thing because it spreads trade and jobs to different countries throughout the world. On the other hand it has the effect that if a product can be produced cheaper in one country, it will not be produced in another country. This country will then lose the jobs.

A good example of this is ‘sweatshop’ labour in the Far East. Workers there work long hours for low pay but workers in Britain won’t work as long and want more pay.

Another bad point about globalization is that because there are so many multinational global companies there is no space in the market for smaller companies. In the end due to globalization the small companies will die out.

It is not just the expense of producing a product that causes job loss. Another factor is where it is made. For example, if you produce a product on an island then you will need to ship the product to other countries, but if you make this product in a country which is joined to other countries, then you will save money on the price of distribution. A good example of this is the Vauxhall plant in Luton. This plant is set to close because Vauxhall think it would be a good idea to move this plant to Germany. Vauxhall wants to do this because Germany is in the centre of Europe and this would make it easier to move the product around.

In my opinion, I think that globalization at the moment is being handled badly. The companies are greedy and they don’t promote worker rights. If globalization could be handled better then I think it would be a good thing.

By Stephen Clarke

 

The myth of the global village.

The global village is a concept that grew out of the explosion of electronic information and international trade. Somehow these two would bind us more closely as a world, affirm our common humanity. But, when one considers that commodities and knowledge are both sources of power, the question of whether they are distributed fairly becomes paramount. And the pretty, happy word "village" appears to mask a more menacing reality.

I would argue that with all our progress we have created, not a global village, but a global ghetto. An international apartheid that divides the world along racial lines.

I grew up in the world's most famous site of apartheid: South Africa. The mechanics of our separation, black from white, were sustained most powerfully through the control of information. White Africans were shielded from any knowledge about black Africans or any interaction with them. The press was censored and TV was a diet of American sitcoms. Black people were nearly invisible. Most White Africans lived a life of happily obscene plenty. Lulled by fashion and microwaves and videos and computers and cars there was no need to question the society in which one lived. And Black Africans were utterly denied an education. This single factor, more than any other, kept apartheid in South Africa alive. Knowledge is power. It seems significant that Nelson Mandela is, apparently, the most educated man alive today. He collected countless degrees in prison. It can be no coincidence that towards the latter years of his sentence, the South African government banned any type of study in jail for political prisoners.

I began my teaching career in a school in south east London, the same borough that houses the HQ for the National Front. So, I was not unduly alarmed that my students looked at me with baffled faces when I told them I was African or that they had never heard of apartheid did not really surprise me. However, when I arrived in Camden, that shining beacon of Liberalism, I was aghast that my students here wore the same look of incomprehension in response to the word " apartheid" than their less enlightened cousins to the south. In our global village how can people be ignorant of this?

My trip to America terrified me more. Seattle it was; not even the hillbilly hinterland of the notoriously narrow-minded Midwest. And many people assured me in smug, braying cries that America was indeed the very, very best country in the world. It was the land of opportunity, the place where anyone's dreams could come true. Most horrifyingly, it was the mantra even of the very newest of immigrants,freshly escaped from the very countries that America plunders most brutally; flushed with their success and eager to mouth the PR rhetoric that seemed to constitute an American identity. The television channels are a fodder of American sitcoms; I could find no international documentaries or news. The press seems to regard international news as what was happening in another state. ( No wonder the baseball league playoffs are called "The World Series." ) The fashion is for colonic irrigation and organic food. Obsessed with their own purity and perfection people seem to believe they can live purely and perfectly, in some hermetically sealed bubble, mindless of the squalor and disease and tragic,ugly poverty that lies beyond their borders; whose deprivation sustains their obscene plenty. As if the rest of the world was just some bottomless pit that could be plundered infinitely so that America could be Bigger and Better and all Americans could have their Dream come true..

I was paralysed and speechless in the face of such gross ignorance. What good is freedom of speech in a country of elective stupidity? Relentless interrogation of one's society is the requisite for sentience; the quality that apparently differentiates humans from insects. Instead, we trade a consumer wet dream in exchange for information; surplus for stupidity. Trading our common humanity for personal plenty. What a trade-off. These are our global ghettos. This is an international apartheid sustained by wilful international ignorance. We are trading our power as citizens for a role as passive consumers. Even Tony Blair speaks of policy being directed by "market forces." The Multi-nationals have more power than most world governments. And the most basic element of the capitalist model is inequity. Inequality. Unfair trade.

Implicitly, we are saying that we are happy to exist in a world where everyday life is underlined by a quietly percolating truth that our economy is maintained by the suffering and pain and hunger and desperate, inhuman degredation of more than half of the world. Democracy is not a by-product of capitalism.

In Africa, there was an urban myth afoot in the global village that Western Governments had paid African countries to take the toxic waste that they could not dispose of. Trading in death. Trading in who dies and who doesn't. The World Bank ensures that Africa will never heal from the hideous ravages of colonisation and slavery by keeping it in ransom to ludicrous debt. South Africa currently has the highest crime rate in the world. This is the legacy of apartheid. Dead Pres, a hip-hop group, tell us that we need a police force because we live in a world of haves and have-nots. The legal system of the western world is built around the protection of private property. Not the protection of equality or dignity or humanity.

Unfair trade is the natural symptom of racism and xenophobia; the logical outcome of viewing half the world as an expendable resource to fuel the onward boot march of technological advancement.The Industrial Revolution was sustained utterly on the back of a ruthless colonisation that provided almost costless raw materials to maintain the economic transformation in Europe. Still there are jaw-droppingly ahistorical opinions that proclaim that, "The ravages in Africa are the fault of the Africans." A stagering ignorance or denial of the historical reality of centuaries of slavery, colonisation, imperialism, explicit policies of economic underdevolopment and, in its final incarnation: unfair trade. What use is technological progress if we cannot evolve in terms of our basic humanity? Cuba has spent decades under the stranglehold of American trade blockades, yet it trains doctors from South America and Africa to the most exacting medical standards for free. Our universities demand hideous foreign student fees.

An American doctor working in Haiti says, " Liberals think problems can be fixed without cost to themselves. But there's a lot to be said for sacrifice. It's what separates us from roaches.we live in a time of great ease and bounty. I have complete access to it all. But at the same time, I have had the world revealed to me as it really is. It isn't a different world- it's the same world."

by Gillian Bassett

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