A Globalization No, Globalizations

People talk about the globalization that prevails in the world as the only possible globalization; such is not true. This globalization is functional to large economic power groups in search for extending their interests beyond the national frontiers within which they operate. There are other options worth considering.

The globalization as it has been developing is, in more than one sense, the projection at a global scale of wealth and knowledge concentration processes that occurred in the so called central countries, basically United States, Europe, Japan and a few more. Those concentration processes left in the hands of a small group of big decision-makers the power to decide the course to follow. This reminds us when in past times certain power groups erected themselves as nobility and anointed themselves as decision-makers of their peoples, forcing them to pay homage and bear the tributes needed to sustain those systems. Nowadays, it is a specific economic power, the financial capital who seized the power wheel of countries and also the wheel that orientates (or tries to orientate) the global course and functioning.

United Nations and its agencies (FAO, UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO, among others), religious leaders from around the world, social movements, development agencies, university and research centers, governments from non-central countries, regional associations of those countries, non-hegemonic social media, even the European Parliament, they all account for the dreadful process of concentration. They have gathered data and produced comprehensive analyses demonstrating that 1% of the global population (actually a fraction even smaller than that 1%) has accumulated so much wealth and power that can impose the rules of functioning that preserve their privileges at the expense of those of the remaining 99%. It implies a colossal and aggressive assault on more than 7 billion people and our precious environment perpetrated by a greedy minority. The mechanisms they have used to subdue the great majority of the world population are numerous and well-known [1]

A malicious claim from those who have concentrated wealth and power at a global scale was to present this type of globalization as the only possible one. Numerous media, think-tanks, “analysts,” academic institutions, political parties—all of them related with economic power—aim at convincing us that “the” globalization (i.e. this globalization that serves their interests) is an inevitable, irreversible, and the almost “natural” consequence of contemporary factors, such as the impressive technological and communicational development together with the “indispensable” activity of big economic conglomerates.

We are made to believe that the current type of globalization is the only option that results from past and present circumstances and, even more, that we must adjust to it not to be left aside of history. On the contrary, the present globalization (as any other globalization) is the result of relationships among people and groups that hold very different interests. Those with greater power are the ones that drive the prevailing configuration of globalization looking to expand their interests way beyond national frontiers. It is clear that it is possible to configure other types of globalizations oriented towards the needs of the world population while taking care of the environment, essential livelihood of our planet.

Strategic Options

Faced with the current globalization there are different attitudes we could adopt, among others the following:

(i) One options is to resist globalization entrenching ourselves behind frail barricades. Though the objective of protecting against its harmful effects is commendable, the strategy of forcing defensive autarchies could hardly, by itself, stop the globalizing tsunami provoked by those colossus economic forces that the concentrating process launched in all directions.

(ii) Another option is not to oppose current globalization but rather try to mitigate some of its impacts. This takes to establish income redistributive policies and mechanisms to compensate some social and productive segments. With the resources national states manage to collect, they attempt at improving the social and productive infrastructure of the country which, despite its merits, results incomplete for a double set of reasons. On the one hand, because the redistributive efforts can adequately comply with their compensating role only as long as the amounts to redistribute are significant in relation with the social needs and, on the other hand, as long as those resources are well allocated.

These conditions are very difficult to secure, among other reasons, because of (a) the huge tax elusion practice by the powerful that subtract numerous resources from the redistributive current; b) the persistence of regressive tax structures that operate against the redistributive purpose; c) a not always effective and frequently biased allocation of public expenditures in favor of economic groups that has the power to influence the design and implementation of public policies. If the concentrated dynamic is not dismantled, the type of social and productive infrastructure financed with public resources can even end up serving the interests of the privilege ones.

(iii) A transforming option is to simultaneously work on present mechanisms that extract and concentrate value [2] at national and geopolitical levels, obtain necessary agreements to establish a new global economic and financial architecture including strong taxes to financial capital, and regulations to stop their speculative movements.

It is about addressing another type of globalization, caring for the environment and serving the vast majority of the population considering the diversity and singularity of circumstances. This new globalization would aim to bring down the concentrating process by redistributing assets and not just incomes in order to mobilize the full potential of the whole global society. It would establish a new international economic and political order based on fairness among countries that would include the transformation of the global productive matrix to replace monopolies and oligopolies with other types of value chains where all members could influence the strategic orientation and its results; allocations of savings and investments away from worthless products for humanity and the environment; progressive tax systems based on taxing wealth, incomes, and financial transactions in order to eliminate outrageous socioeconomic differences. To achieve the latter, tax evasion and elusion need to be strongly confronted exercising a much more effective control at national level, eliminating the evil tax havens, and sharing and disclosing information regarding all type of asset holders.

A different globalization is not a technocratic adventure but mainly political initiatives to be taken both at the local and national levels as there lays a main support for the proposed transformation. Governments urged by popular support for a new world order would receive a firm mandate to act in all global and regional platforms.

The survival of the planet and the general wellbeing demand measures to build a new course and a better and fairer global functioning. The magnitude of the challenges to face should not frighten us, rather inaction, lack of alternative visions and appropriate responses to those challenges should worry us. Much progress had been made in identifying what compromises the global future; it is knowledge that helps understand what is really going on, an initial step for mobilizing in an organized way adding forces to work agreements. The new course speaks about transformation and transforming us.

Footnotes

[1] A brief summary of those mechanisms can be consulted at Is the World Burning?.

[2] Some mechanisms for extracting value are mentioned in the article The Inequality Funnel.

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