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on July 30, 2003
This provocative text is the work of an impressive collection of luminary scholars, writers, and environmental activists, all of whom have something important to contribute to the issue of economic globalization and how it is affecting the environment. This distinguished group of authors, including Jerry Mander, Ralph Nader, David Korten, John Cavanaugh, and Lori Wallach, have joined in a collaborative effort herein to render what is likely the single most definitive and sober critique of the current state of globalization as well as the rising tide of anti-globalization efforts across the planet. As the culminating product of a three-year effort by the International Forum on Globalization, the book can best described as being both painstaking and muckraking, providing a series of ten core requirements which must be instituted to make democratic societies sustainable; among which are equality, human rights, local decision-making, and of course, ecological sustainability. In the narrative, each is addressed in terms of both how they are affected by the globalization process as well as what kind of strategies work to counteract these untoward effects.
Moreover, the individual contributors offer a series of quite specific collective strategies for combating and limiting the extent of corporate domination, and also discuss various alternative systems in the critical areas of energy, agriculture, transportation, and manufacturing. There is also a lively discussion pertaining to modes of political action to deconstruct and even destroy the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well its predecessor and corollary institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund or IMF. From the time of the creation of the post WWII international monetary system at Bretton Woods in 1944, through the institution of the World Bank, the IMF, and GATT, the rise of globalization has necessarily towed in its wake an increasing pressure both on the natural environment and the natural resources the corporate forces must dominate and control to continue its essential core function of international economic growth.
With the rise of an organized opposition and a declaration of that organization's policies to systematically resist and counter the effects of the WTO, the anti-globalization forces around the world now have a formal manifesto for the systematic resistance to the forces of corporate sponsored economic globalization. Of course, given the fact that the existing corporate effort is so widespread, pandemic, and attractive to a variety of international corporate forces, any prospect for reversing the trend will be problematic indeed. Yet, given the potential for catastrophic consequences stemming from the movement toward the expanding influence of such global corporate enterprises, the authors argue that we would do well to try.
This is an important book, one that arms the reader with an array of facts regarding what the so-called "New World Order" really means in terms of its potential impact on each us in every aspect of our lives, as individuals, as members of the local community, as consumers of necessary (and other) products, and as citizens of a nation and of the world at large. The scope of the change to come is immense, and it is obviously in the interest of each of us to better understand exactly what is at stake in terms of our lives, our freedoms as citizens, and our survival in a world increasingly endangered by reckless corporate activities that are destroying the biosphere. I highly recommend this book. Enjoy!
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on February 18, 2003
Drafted by a committee of 19 (but sufficiently well edited to read as if it were written by a single author) this book provides a well-argued, detailed and wide-ranging analysis of the consequences of economic globalization (the term corporate globalization is also extensively used in the book) and an examination of alternatives and the action required to move towards those alternatives. It has succeeded brilliantly, and deserves very close study, whether or not you agree with the drafting committee's views.
This is no extremist anti-corporate, anti-capitalist text, although it does clearly come to the conclusion that the vector of economic globalisation that we are on is neither inevitable, desirable nor sustainable. It is notable for arguing at the level of underlying principles and their practical consequences - it makes explicit the assumptions underlying corporate globalisation and questions them. This, in itself, is a valuable service as so much of the 'debate' in the media proceeds on the basis of bald assertion of essentially fallacious economic dogma.
The report starts with a critique of 'corporate globalization'. The term itself is useful, because the term 'globalization' has become something of a 'Humpty-Dumpty' word ('when I use a word, it means exactly what I want it to mean, neither more nor less'). 'Corporate globalization' describes a process driven and promoted by the large global corporations which, whatever its other consequences, gives primacy to the benefits that will flow to global business.
The critique identifies eight key features of corporate globalization:
1. 'Promotion of hypergrowth and unrestricted exploitation of environmental resources to fuel that growth
2. Privatization and commodification of public services and of remaining aspects of the global and community commons
3. Global cultural and economic homogenization and the intense promotion of consumerism
4. Integration and conversion of national economies, including some that were largely self-reliant, to environmentally and socially harmful export oriented production
5. Corporate deregulation and unrestricted movement of capital across borders
6. Dramatically increased corporate concentration
7. Dismantling of public health, social, and environmental programs already in place
8. Replacement of traditional powers of democratic nation-states and local communities by global corporate bureaucracies.'
It demonstrates each of these propositions and explores who are the beneficiaries of application of these policies. One of the complexities of trying to follow the arguments of the pro- and anti- globalisers is that both use statistics, both from apparently authoritative sources, that directly contradict each other. It is almost as if the two sides inhabit parallel universes that operate in different ways. Suffice it to say that the report puts forward convincing arguments in support of its case.
The critique proceeds to a devastating analysis of the impact of the World Bank, The IMF and the WTO, the three pillars of corporate globalisation, over the last four or five decades.
The report then argues ten principles for sustainable societies, as a basis for identifying ways of realising these principles in the subsequent chapters of the report. It argues that these principles 'seem to be the mirror opposites of the principles that drive the institutions of the corporate global economy.'.
One of the minor problems in the debate is that, whereas 'globalization' rolls easily off the tongue, 'the principle of subsidiarity' is neither easy to say nor obvious in its meaning. The report contains a chapter on the case for subsidiarity, and it is a strong one. The counter argument is almost entirely concerned with power. While there are many elements of conflict between corporate globalisation and the principle of subsidiarity - local control - they are not entirely antithetical. But the reach of the large corporates would unquestionably be reduced.
You may or may not agree with the arguments in this report, but they deserve serious attention. They are well and carefully argued, they represent (in fairly sophisticated terms) the views of a growing number of people around the world who believe that current beliefs and institutions serve them poorly, and they show those who wish to promote change a path for doing so.
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on November 12, 2002
A friend of mine who is involved with Rabbi Michael Lerner's Tikkun Community movement recently gave me a copy of Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World is Possible. I'm not an expert in this field at all, but I found the book worthwhile and very accessible. (So accessible that I read the entire thing in a week!) The writers include Jerry Mander, David Korten, Lori Wallach, and many people working around the world in the anti-globalization movement.
What makes the book really important is the positive solutions and alternatives offered. The authors offer real ways to put into practice the Tikkun Community's first and second core principles (interdependence and ecological sanity, and a new bottom line in economic and social institutions).
I think other Tikkun readers, progressive-Democrats, Green party members, and thoughtful people everywhere---who want to see the world change from how it is now to how it could be---would want to read a book outlining specifics of how to create sustainable energy, transportation and food systems. And Alternatives to Economic Globalization does just that. I can't recommend this book enough (in fact I've already bought several copies to give to some of my friends).
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on September 30, 2003
Unlike THE CASE AGAINST THE GLOBAL ECONOMY, an anti-globalization compilation put out by many of the same people who contributed to ALTERNATIVES TO ECONOMIC GLOBALIZATION, this book is more slim and concisely articulated. If you are in any way interested in the debates surrounding democracy, ecology, sustainability, resource management, globalization, locatization, the environment, corportism, bio- and cultural-diversity, human rights, food security, job security, energy, transportion, manufacturing and the general measure of progress, this book is a must. I was particularly impressed with the way ALTERNATIVES was able to blend an argument for global regulations while at the same time stridently championing the rights of local, autonomous indigenous peoples. This is THE document for anyone interested in understanding globalization and its possible alternatives.
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on December 6, 2002
This book is excellent for all those who think we can do better-that small farmers needn't be driven from the land, our water needn't be polluted, people need not go hungry while others are overfed genetically engineered chemically altered junk food, etc. It has great thinkers presenting clear, well thought out ideas about what's wrong and what we can do about it. It helps when getting in that classic argument of keynesianism/communism v. neoliberalism because it outlines the thrid alternative very well. I am a grad student and I used it for a paper i wrote recently refuting neoliberalism and it was very helpful. I highly recommend it! Also, look into Maria Mies. She is the anti-capitalist-patriarchy bomb, yo.
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on November 12, 2002
An impressive treatise that is both comprehensive and detailed in its coverage, and practical in its idealogies towards an economic model that is ethical yet beneficial to all. Far from being just a "lefty" manifesto, this is a thoroughly researched piece that was compiled by a group of the best and brightest thinkers in the arena of economic reform worldwide.
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on November 26, 2003
If this book represents the views of the anti-globalization "movement", then the movement is nothing more than regurgitated Luddite socialism. The authors have a romanticized view of subsistence farming and believe it should be promoted, its past association with famine and poverty escape mention. Trade per se, is an evil that should be discouraged in place of protectionism. Again there is a selective reading of history, the hyperinflation and instability associated with populism and protectionism gets no mention. Even when they toss out some laudable ideas about alternative energy sources, they oversell its virtues.
Far worse is the outright disingenuousness of the authors. They drag out the tired canard that less developed nations were "forced" to open up and globalize. No nation was forced to lower trade barriers or join the WTO, they did so because they wanted access to foreign markets and credit, for better or worse. This is a phony argument because otherwise the authors would be forced to admit there are nations that are following their prescription: Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela and perhaps soon Bolivia, to name a few. In truth they don't have a successful or worthwhile recipe for an alternative to the alleged evils of capitalism. It would be wonderful is some nation would anoint itself as the model alternative, all they have to do is close their economy from the rest of world. It would be interesting to watch, if you're lucky enough not to be a resident.
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on October 24, 2003
Any one with a modicum of knowledge in economic would find this book laughable. The leftist idoits make no new points, moreover, they lack a basic understanding of economics. Globalization and free trade are the future of the world, you can accept that and grow rich, or go protectionist and become poor. Examples, Hong Kong, after WW2, chosse to become an open free maket nation, it know has GDP per Capita greater then the UK, India however, chosse to become protectionist and know is a third world hell hole, with GDP per capita is three digit range.
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