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Wednesday, Nov. 09, 2005 at 6:00 PM
global capitalism is an economic Colt 45 for the times
To the impoverished masses throughout the world, help can come dressed as an angel or a devil, either to be welcomed with open arms. To these people, experiencing a positive economic change in their lives is all that matters. little else does.
For the most part, the help that triggers the positive change comes in the form of added employment: new jobs in these Third World communities that help create both wealth and infrastructure. If these people are told they owe the change to global capitalism, so be it; let others intellectualize and debate the positive and negative aspects of that system. Not them!
One can hardly argue against the logic of self-preservation; or advancing it one more step: economic self-improvement. All nations, all tribes, all peoples are expected to react the same way. The argument is not against upward economic mobility for those less fortunate, but the path that should be taken to get there.
Few would argue that the world we live in is unjustly shared. But we also know that the walk towards social and economic justice is arduous and long, only doable in measured steps, not in jolts. Shifts in people's fortunes, where some gain at the expense of others, without a realignment of the societal base, may prove harmful in both the short and the long term. And nothing more appropriate to create these jolts than global capitalism.
Many, if not most, of those jobs created in the developing world have required not only capital investments in their creation, but disinvestments as well. in destroyed communities and underutilized infrastructures where the flight of "living-wage" jobs has occurred. And who absorbs the cost of these disinvestments? It's a safe bet that it will be the jilted community and/or nation; but not capital, or rather, the capital-purveyors.
Take the United States : its manufacturing base has now eroded to the point where in another two decades there will be little or nothing left. While the latter stages of that manufacturing exodus is taking place, significant erosion is beginning to emerge in the services sector throughout the nation.
One can extrapolate from what has been happening during the past three decades, now continuing at an accelerated pace, to the time in another generation when America will have attained the social profile of a developing nation: a tiny hyper-rich elite, sustained in power by a small "buffer class"- a squire group who by chance or choice defends the entrenchment, and perpetuation, of wealth and power. The remaining 80-plus percent of the population will become America 's first proletariat since pre-Emancipation days.
So global capitalism is an economic Colt 45 for the times, an equalizer to the unjust distribution of wealth around the world. what's wrong with that? Isn't this the best way to create a more egalitarian planet, bringing not only economic justice to the Third World but collaterally adding a political bonus: democracy?
Far from it! Results give us a much different story. one lacking in fairness, democracy and egalitarianism. While global capitalism as a concept or a vision, and for the long term, may appear as positive, without a value system which ennobles all humanity it ends up serving only man's basest instinct: greed.
Democracy tends to humanize us, to make us feel as part of a working society, elevating our spirits and self worth. Conversely, unrestrained capitalism, through its values of greed and profit above all, dehumanizes us, acknowledging for us the lowest status by which man may be measured: that of consumer! And global capitalism is but the ultimate unrestrained or unregulated form of capitalism.
Unless and until there is an empowered central institution to regulate global capitalism, nations must not abdicate their regulatory power to multi-national corporations. Without controls, the power shifts from the people to an elite few who own or control capital. It will then be axiomatic that democracy will only exist as a protectorate of capital. But subservient democracy is a conflict in terms. If there is a perfect example of mutual exclusivity, this is it!
Global capitalism is neither synonymous to free enterprise, nor does it receive any type of legitimacy by a pseudo-association with democracy. In fact global capitalism, as it's practiced today, is but the scourge of democracy and the enslavement of free societies to capital, and the power that capital can buy for a chosen few.
But global capitalism is neither the only, nor the best option we have.
The world could slowly work towards creating an environment which will allow trade barriers to come down, while minimizing the pain [for all] in making the change. First World nations could lead the way to a future where fair trade and free trade do become synonymous. People in developing nations would be better served if there is less talk about free trade and more action towards fair trade.
No one need be afraid of individual or corporate wealth, only of the problems caused by individual or corporate greed. If we abdicate our democratic power to regulate capital, the globalization of this capital will in turn control us. and become the neo-colonialism of an all-powerful multi-national elite.
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