In Defense of Globalization

By Jagdish Bhagwati | Go to book overview

2
Globalization: Socially, Not Just
Economically, Benign

Many of the early anti-globalizers, even when differentially animated by one or more of the concerns and intellectual arguments I have outlined, typically described themselves in unison as seeking recognition as “stakeholders” who sought a voice, even a vote, and at times a veto, in the globalization process.

But, as became fairly clear fairly soon, there were two kinds of stakeholders: those to be seen in the streets and heard at times in strident voices, who wished to drive a stake through the global system, and those who wished to exercise their stake so as to participate in and influence the system. The former are “stake-wielding” groups, the latter “stakeasserting” groups.

Indeed, the street-theater stake-wielding NGOs see themselves as the “people's pitchforks,” to be used in the war against globalization. It is a sad reality that politicians such as the affable President Bill Clinton, who could feel your pain before you did, indulged the stake-wielding groups even when they broke into violence, while politicians with firmer backbones chided them instead. 1 Prime Minister Tony Blair, with admirable forthrightness, called the violent among them “louts,” that archaic but evocative epithet that has unfortunately vanished from American parlance, when they trashed Trafalgar Square and much else on May Day some years ago.

By contrast, the stake-asserting NGOs—such as the Center for Science and Environment in India and the International Forum on Globalization in the United States—prefer to be in the corridors rather than out in the streets, urging reasoned discourse as a way to advance their agendas, and using the sedate methods of glossy, researched pamphlets and policy briefs to put their oars into the policy waters. 2 They worked

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