Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Globalization: Summary

I want you all to know I realize the strangeness of posting the summary before the actual topic itself, just understand that for some reason I am unable to copy and paste things successfully into this text box on a macintosh, and I haven't had the presence of mind or time to post the topic itself while using a PC.

Some Key Points
  • We examined the multifaceted manifestations of globalization.  We concluded that globalization had strong cultural, political, economic, social, and communicative dimensions, and a reductive analysis of globalization was not possible.  However, in traditional Marxist fashion, everyone at the table seemed to agree that the economic aspects of globalization were the conditions of possibility for its proliferation in other dimensions.
  • Paul mentioned the fact that this already plays into the theory of globalization, as the economic actors of the corporation are considered to be principal agents of power over and above the nation state.
  • Chuck argued for a conception of globalization as an organic evolutionary inevitability, claiming that the proliferation of technology and mass communication as a result of the spread of free market capitalism translates into a more easily and efficiently globally run community where quality of life is generally increased, an argument which within Held and McGrew's framework of the neo-liberal free market globalist, much like Francis Fukuyama.
  • Others at the table were not as satisfied with this thesis due to its analogical naturalization and universalization of the infrastructure of capitalism and technology, when these structures are not necessarily appreciated in a universal fashion.  Examples which Rockhill cited of this failure to be universal included: a majority of the earth's population living on less than a dollar a day, the unused technological capability of being able to feed the world eight times over so that american farmers can stay in business, and the comparative lack of internet access in Africa, in order to demonstrate the benefits of globalization are often one sided, and at the expense of third world countries.
  • Mark made an extremely important point regarding the relationship between Marxist dogma and globalization.  Both of these terms actually share the same historical determinism, where Marx predicted communism as the end of history, while neo-liberal globalists like Fukuyama uphold political and economic liberalism as the end of history.  In fact, Mark claimed that we hadn't really left Marxist dogma at all, because Marx himself predicted that global capitalism would lead to a global revolution of the proletariat.  Rockhill expressed his skepticism towards Mark's unabashed Marxist optimism.
  • Zack made a really important point that I thought deserved more attention, and spoke to the question that I was the most concerned with, namely the relationship between the normative and descriptive elements of globalization.  Zack claimed, if I understood him correctly, that the normative dimensions of globalization are important insofar is how the term is used in discourse, but as far as understanding a PHENOMENON of globalization, one needed essentially to look at "the facts," some of which were enumerated already by Rockhill, in order to come to a working definition of globalization.  I guess I wanted to see if we could somehow tease out the analytic distinctions, or otherwise facts of globalization, from the normative baggage of globalization.  However, it seems though that as the term is used in discourse, the facts of globalization are subject to shifts, and these facts will redetermine the normative constitution of the term.  One could also make an argument for the dialectical relationship between the normative and analytically descriptive dimensions of the term globalization.  I would want to privilege the facts as the basis for sound rational judgment, over a normative ideology determining the constitution of the facts as such, but the dialectical nature of this relationship seems to be unfortunately real.
  • Blueberries are my favorite fruit


Francis Prior said...


Hi Tappers--
O.K., I'm not supposed to do this via regular email. But I tried to do it "properly" on the blog, but whatever my password is I don't remember.
So the comments.
1. One does not need to be a "Marxist" to put the emphasis on the economic aspects as the basis of other dimensions: many other folks do this, including the "neo-liberals."
2. Marxist "dogma"?? (Yep, Mark, you probably figured that would spur a comment.) There is a Marxist way of understanding these kinds of real world goings-on, fair enough. But is that "dogmatic"? Only if it gets frozen into a THIS HAS to be THE TRUTH mode. There have been Marxists dogmatists, but that doesn't mean Marxism is simply a dogma.
3. Marx didn't think communism was the end of history. Rather communism, or better socialism, is the BEGINNING of real human history. That means history shaped BY humans, who finally have some relatively clear idea of what they are doing and are consciously thinking about this, and IN the interest of humans. Fukuyama's interpretation of the "end of history" really has nothing in common with Marx, and in fact (my opinion here) is a joke as a purported theory. Further, Marx was not a strict determinist. The proletarian revolution won't happen unless WE WORK at it. Yes, capitalism has certainly "set up" the conditions, but as Rosa Luxemburg observed clearly some time ago: our ultimate destiny is "socialism or barbarism." Socialism is not guaranteed to "win" somehow mystically.
4. As far as the one-sided benefits and thus the other-sided harms of globalization, that's certainly true, especially if one concentrates on limited areas and a limited "slice of history." But as in other areas, we all need to be careful of sentimental idealizations, which (as idealizations) never really existed anywhere. As in any socio-economic area we need to ask what is the predominant form at any particular time and what is the clear tendency. Capitalism remains the predominant form and its current tendency certainly is "globalization." But that's really not something wholly new: capital has (or if you prefer, capitalists have) a continuing drive to expand...into other parts of the world which are not yet (fully) capitalistic and into other area in our own life which have remained outside the "commodity" sphere. Well, again, the later Marxist, Luxemburg, figured this out some time ago. She essentially predicted what we now call "globalization."
5. The descriptive and normative issue I'll leave for now. But Frank is right, I think, that these two can't be neatly separated...once and for all.
Michael Prosch

Francis Prior said...

VIA Robert:

Greetings Tappers,

Wish I could be there for this discussion.

So, Prosch..."socialism or barbarism" ? Would barbarism be congruent
to anarchism here?

I'd like to lay out some definitions here for people to ponder. And in
case one is wondering my "position" on globalization, I would like to
point out all the lies and deceit around this issue. Know that it's
all about the power game of control. Look at how the EEC has turned
into the EU who's leaders are unelected and virtually unaccountable.
(struggling to not rant)

*skip ahead to CAPITALISM if you have short attention*

FREE MARKET: that condition of society in which all economic
transactions result from voluntary choice without COERCION

The STATE: that institution which interferes with the Free Market
through direct exercise of coercion or the granting of privileges

TAX: the State collects tribute, allowing it to hire armed forces to
practice coercion in defense of privilege - also to engage in such
wars, experiments, "reforms" at the cost of "its" subjects

PRIVILEGE: From Latin privi, private, and lege, law. An advantage
granted by the State and protected by the power of coercion. [A Law
for private benefit]

USURY: Form of privilege/interference with Free Market in which one
State supported group monopolizes the coinage and thereby takes
tribute (interest), direct or indirect (inflation), on all or most
economic transactions. (I wish more people knew about the FED, which
is no more federal than federal express).

LANDLORDISM: form of privilege with the Free Market in which one State
supported group "owns" the land and thereby takes tribute (rent) from
those who live, work, or produce on the land

TARIFF: form of privilege with Free Market in which commodities
produced outside the State are not allowed to compete equally with
those produced inside the State

CAPITALISM: organization of society, incorporating elements of tax,
usury, landlordism, and tariff, which thus denies the Free Market
while pretending to exemplify it

CONSERVATISM: school of capitalist philosophy which claims allegiance
to the Free Market while actually supporting usury, landlordism,
tariff, and sometimes taxation.

LIBERALISM: school of capitalist philosophy which attempts to correct
the injustices of capitalism by adding new laws to the existing laws.
Each time conservatives pass a law creating privilege, liberals pass
another law modifying privilege, leading conservatives to pass a more
subtle law recreating privilege...until "everything not forbidden is
compulsory" and "everything not compulsory is forbidden."

SOCIALISM: attempted abolition of all privilege by restoring power
entirely to the coercive agent behind privilege, the STATE, thereby
converting capitalist oligarchy into Statist monopoly. This could be
called "whitewashing a wall by painting it black." IMAGINE this on a
global scale...the days of nation-states are numbered

ANARCHISM: organization (yes it is organized!) of society in which the
Free Market operates freely without taxes, usury, landlordism,
tariffs, etc. Right leaning anarchists predict that in the FM people
would choose to compete more often than cooperate. Left leaning
anarchists predect people would voluntarily choose cooperation over


R.E. Mida