Article on Globalization

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Wed Aug 2 09:46:54 MDT 2000


Built on lies

By David Eisenhower - PWW

Globalist orthodoxy focuses on a deliberately narrow and partisan set of
political-economic policies: free trade; export-led growth; market liberalization;
privatization; and fiscal moderation.

These are claimed to represent the "keys to the temple" * the path to peace,
development, and prosperity. Deviation isn't tolerated.

World Bank economist Rovi Kanbur found this out when his draft of the "World
Development Report 2000/01 on Poverty and Development" was rejected on instructions
from U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. Summers found the draft too heretical.

Kanbur reported that world poverty "outside of China" increased from 916 million to
986 million over the past decade of intense globalization. Kanbur even suggested that
the neoliberal policy mix produces volatility, instability and crisis. But his
unforgivable sin was an emphasis on the need to "empower" the world's poor through
state programs that redistribute income.

If Kanbur needed to be reminded, Martin Wolf wrote in the Financial Times (6/20/00)
that "the [world] Bank cannot run with both the pro-growth, pro-market hares and
anti-growth, anti-market hounds. It has to choose between them ... The Bank is a
component part of the western system of market-oriented institutions and ideas. It
must not cut itself off from these roots."

For the faithful, the Bank, together with its sister institutions are on a
humanitarian mission for the economic gods. For anyone with a little objectivity,
however, a different picture emerges.

Globalization represents a set of strategic policies designed to colonize financial
markets around the world and foster an updated version of "primitive accumulation."

The goal of the latter is the vast expansion of the global work force with the
products of its labor channeled into imperialist circuits where the value can be
realized in imperial currencies. The urgency behind this strategy is provided by the
profit requirements of rentier (the idle rich's) capital at a stage of rapid
unproductive capital accumulation. This is the same force that has been behind the
30-year restructuring of the U.S. economy, which, according to a study by the
Conference Board, has also resulted in more poverty. The Conference Board found that
2.8 million full-time workers in 1998 were living in poverty, an increase of .4
percent from 1997.

To appreciate better the broader range of policies associated with restructuring/

globalization, it is useful to examine how each play out in what Saskia Sassen refers
to as "The Global City" * the "command posts in the organization of the world

To begin with, policies of deindustrialization have created what William Julius Wilson
calls "jobless ghettos." These policies resulted in the precipitous decline in urban
manufacturing jobs. According to the Conference Board these jobs have fallen from 30
percent of the city work force in 1965 to 15 percent in 1998. At the same time the
number of jobs in the retail and "low value" service areas (the two lowest paying
areas) increased from 30 percent to 48 percent during the same period. INS and
"workfare" policies serve to discipline this new servant class.

While this was occurring, the business ecology of the emerging global city was
increasingly dominated by high-paying finance, insurance and real estate jobs, which
feasted off the profits of globalization.

Sassen documents how finance and specialized "high value" service industries, acting
as agents of globalization, came to restructure the social and economic space of the
global city. Building on Sassen's analysis, Christian Parenti in Lockdown America
describes how "the new upper-middle classes and the post-modern rentiers" demanded the
"pacification of the business core" together with a constantly expanding "gentrified
buffer." A variety of paramilitary and repressive policies were deployed to "reclaim
the streets." The result was the jailing of urban America. These policies, combined
with those promoting gentrification, in effect, represent ethnic cleansing U.S. style.

As more of its interrelated dimensions come into focus the project of globalization is
called into question. To organize the global economy for the benefit of stockholders
and speculators operating from downtown financial centers, means more poverty overseas
and downsizing, outsourcing, runaway shops and job insecurity at home.

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