Globalization, the prequel

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Feb 28 08:15:01 MST 2001

Apparently, according to Anthony Sampson ("Empires of the Sky"), hoopla
over "globalization" was first heard back in the 1940s when air travel
appeared to be breaking down national boundaries just as electronic trading
in currencies, television, multinational corporations, etc. are doing so
today--at least in some eyes.

Wendell Wilkie, who ran against FDR in 1940, became the prophet of the "one
world" and proclaimed that the airplane made it possible. In a 1943 speech,
he said "The modern airplane creates a new geographical dimension…A
navigable ocean of air blankets the whole surface of the globe. There are
no distant places any longer: the world is small and the world is one. The
American people must grasp these new realities if they are to play their
essential part in winning the war and building a world of peace and freedom."

Juan Trippe, the Yale graduate and OSS-connected chairman of Pan American
Airlines, dismissed this "wooly-headed internationalism" as did Clare
Boothe Luce who attacked the rhetoric as "globaloney" in a 1943 speech to

L. Welch Pogue, the first head of the Civil Aeronautics Board who is still
alive today at the age of 103, wrote, "The imagination of men's minds
leaped to the view that in the post-war era the airplane would 'shrink' the
world so much, both militarily and in a civil sense, as to make every
civilization and its trade and commerce available to every other
civilization on earth. Suddenly, civil aviation had become vitally important."

Back then, as today, neither "globalization" perspectives a la Thomas
Friedman or Wendell Wilkie nor the "globaloney" complaints of a nationalist
like Clare Boothe Luce or Pat Buchanan address a class perspective. Part of
the problem is that both positions embrace divergent class interests of the
bourgeoisie, while Marxism should take an entirely different angle. We are
internationalists when it comes to working-class solidarity, and
nationalists when it comes to defending the material interests of weak,
peripheral nations trying to advance along independent social and economic
routes, from socialist Cuba to Chavez's Venezuela.

Louis Proyect
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