cj#1171> Guidebook 2.a. “Globalization: crisis and opportunity”


Richard Moore


        (C) 2000, Richard K. Moore

    Chapter 2:

    What kind of world do we want?

   ===>  a. Globalization: crisis and opportunity
         b. Birth scenario for a new global system
         c. Fundamental principles of a livable world
         d. Localism, diversity, and genuine democracy
         e. Sustainability and its political implications
         f. Decentralized sovereignty and global stability
         g. Human evolution and the liberation of the spirit

    Recommended reading   <===  [ references welcome - rkm ]


    2.a. Globalization: crisis and opportunity

         "How well we know all this! How often we have
         witnessed it in our part of the world! The
         machine that worked for years to apparent
         perfection, faultlessly, without a hitch, falls
         apart overnight. The system that seemed likely
         to reign unchanged, world without end, since
         nothing could call its power in question amid
         all those unanimous votes and elections, is
         shattered without warning. And, to our
         amazement, we find that everything was quite
         otherwise than we had thought."
         - Václav Havel, 1975

         "The first step is to penetrate the clouds of
         deceit and distortion and learn the truth about
         the world, then to organise and act to change
         it. That's never been impossible and never been
         - Noam Chomsky

    The Chinese symbol for 'crisis' embodies a bit of folk
    wisdom - it is made by combining the symbols for 'danger'
    and 'opportunity'. The crisis of globalization certainly
    endangers the future of humanity, but does it provide any
    kind of opportunity? Is there any reason to expect that
    humanity can escape from the clutches of the global
    regime - when for centuries nothing has been able to
    reverse the advance of capitalism and imperialism? The
    capitalist regime seems more entrenched in power now than
    ever before... where is there any ray of hope?

    In fact, there are many rays of hope. Consider, for
    example, the question of how 'well entrenched' capitalism
    actually is, particularly in comparison to the days
    before globalization.

    Capitalism's dwindling base of support
    For centuries, up until 1945, the leading Western nations
    were engaged in competition for empires and spheres of
    influence. This meant that the interests of capitalism
    were fundamentally aligned with national ambitions,
    popular patriotism - and with national prosperity.
    Capitalist industry provided the muscle of empire - and
    jobs - while strong Western nations provided safe-haven
    fortresses for capitalist elites. Western nations
    dominated the globe, and capitalism was an integral part
    of national success. In _those days capitalism was indeed
    well entrenched.

    In pursuing globalization, elites have abandoned their
    own time-honored success formula. They are betting that
    their New-World-Order system, with its elite hi-tech
    warriors and sophisticated media propaganda, will protect
    them in their new WTO fortress. Perhaps they are right -
    their plans seem to be succeeding so far. But the fact
    remains that their entrenched power has become largely
    illusory. Capitalism is no longer delivering the goods to
    Western workers - or even Western middle classes - and
    people look to the future with increasing apprehension.

    Before 1945, it would have been nearly impossible to
    assemble a majority movement in the West around a
    post-capitalist agenda. The system was working to the
    benefit of too many segments of the population.
    Globalization has changed all that. According to
    objective conditions, it is now in most people's
    overwhelming best interest to rise up and replace the
    reckless, greedy, self-serving regime. A latent social
    demand for political and economic transformation now
    exists - and we can thank globalization for that. In this
    case, crisis has indeed brought with it an opportunity.

    Whether this latent demand can be actualized - in an
    effective movement to replace capitalism - is of course
    an entirely different question. In Chapter 3, we will
    turn our full attention to that topic. For now, let us
    continue exploring this question of 'globalization as
    opportunity'. If we can find reason to hope that things
    might actually change, then our investigation into "What
    kind of world do we want?" will have a lot more meaning.
    And if we can achieve an informed notion of _how such
    change might arise, then our investigation will be guided
    by an initial scenario - the starting conditions under
    which new-world creation might begin.

    The nation as community
    Under globalization, elites have abandoned
    nations-as-fortresses, and with their neoliberalism they
    have been stealing the family treasures - leaving nations
    in debt and strapped for cash. Post-Reagan media
    propaganda has steered us away from patriotism, and has
    undermined respect for national institutions. Perhaps the
    disrespect is deserved, but it is noteworthy that elites
    are actively undermining national integrity in so many
    ways. Having abandoned the once-proud nation fortresses,
    it seems the global regime is endeavoring to scuttle them
    as rapidly as possible - lest they serve as the defensive
    bastions of other occupiers.

    And therein lies a second opportunity for the movement -
    again, an opportunity inherent in globalization itself.
    We have the opportunity to take the high ground with
    respect to national sentiment and national prosperity. We
    can re-invent national spirit as a connection with place,
    a sense of community - the symbol of shared destiny,
    culture, and heritage. We can redefine national
    prosperity as 'decent lives in healthy communities'. We
    can claim the nation as a bastion of the post-capitalist
    civil society - a macro sustainable community composed of
    local sustainable communities.

    Such radical re-thinking of the meaning and potential of
    national sentiment opens an opportunity for alliance
    building between progressive and conservative elements.
    Conservatives, many of whom retain a traditional respect
    for patriotism, might be receptive to an approach from
    progressives who have positive proposals for getting 'our
    nation back on track', returning power to communities,
    and reviving the economic viability of locally-based
    markets. If the movement can succeed in uniting people
    around an enlightened and revivified notion of national
    spirit, that could go a long way toward establishing the
    movement as a broad-based, grass-roots force to be
    reckoned with.

    The creative response to environmental crisis
    One of the crises brought by globalization has been the
    acceleration of resource depletion, and the reckless
    stressing of environmental limits. This
    survival-threatening crisis has motivated scientists and
    others to explore alternative ways of doing things. We
    now have a rich literature - and a body of real-world
    research - regarding sustainable economics and
    agriculture, energy-saving practices, appropriate
    technologies, and the like. This crisis has given us the
    impetus to develop the core principles of a sustainable
    post-capitalist world.

    Globalization of the movement
    With electronic communications, and the popularization of
    jet travel, globalization has made everyone aware of the
    'global community'. The potential for collaboration
    globally among movements is greatly enhanced by these
    developments, and already anti-globalization protests are
    routinely coordinated on a global basis. Globalization
    has broken down national borders, and that gives us the
    opportunity to globalize the movement.

    We have a regime which is not serving the needs of most
    people - and whose agenda ensures that conditions will
    continue to decline. The regime's only defense is that
    'free markets' will 'someday' make everything all right.
    More and more people are rejecting that shallow
    propaganda lie, and a movement is rapidly taking form.
    The movement is popularly perceived as being made up of
    'leftists', 'tree-huggers', and 'anarchists', but the
    fundamental appeal of the movement is universal -
    essentially everyone is being screwed by modern
    capitalism. As diverse elements in the movement find ways
    to work together, the energy and scale of the movement
    could increase very rapidly. The times are definitely
    ripe for the _right kind_ of movement - and globalization
    has created the conditions which give us a reasonable
    chance for success.

    In the course of my investigations I have noticed a kind
    of split, or lack of understanding, between movement
    theoreticians and front-line activists. Activists refer
    to thinkers as 'policy wonks', and often assume it's up
    to 'them' to worry about 'technical' matters. 'Real
    activists' are out there making noise, and in the midst
    of engagement theory can seem irrelevant. I suggest that
    this section on 'opportunity' illustrates how critically
    necessary it is to inform activism with analysis - and to
    apply analysis to the practice of activism. Before we
    were able to _begin looking for opportunities, we needed
    a suitable analysis of globalization and its dynamics.
    And in the search itself, we applied an analytical eye to
    the problems of the movement. Movement action and
    understanding must evolve together synergistically - as
    in any other human endeavor. Academics and activists need
    to spend more time together - as peers in two-way dialog.

    A movement to overcome global capitalism can be seen as a
    David & Goliath contest, with the movement in the role of
    wily David. The key word in this metaphor is 'wily'. A
    David does not overcome a Goliath by employing random
    blind assaults on the barricades, or the WTO meetings. A
    David must be more clever than his more powerful opponent;
    he must be quicker on his feet; he must have an eye for
    opportunities; he must think ahead. Most activists, like
    most people in general, still have a pre-1945 model of
    the world in their heads, with its aggressive
    nationalism, its left-right competition, and its inherent
    alignment with capital. They know 'something has
    changed', but they haven't moved on to a model which
    matches current reality. Until this 'understanding lag' -
    and others like it - are addressed, our David stands
    blindfolded as he faces Goliath.