The Market or the Public Domain? Global Governance and the Asymmetry of Power

By Daniel Drache | Go to book overview

6

Social disability and the public good

Marcia Rioux and Ezra Zubrow

Seattle and Prague have made evident the divisions that have arisen over the current and future course of globalization. The majority of the world's countries feel they are being treated unfairly in the global system by the rich nations. People outside the mainstream because of ethnicity, gender, religion and disability see themselves as the particular targets of disadvantage in economic globalization. And there are concerns over the failure of political leaders to address such critical issues as global poverty and a deteriorating environment. The widening gap and the imbalance between rich and poor that appears to be the legacy of economic globalization is considered by many to be both intolerable and unnecessary. Basic human rights such as food and nutrition, primary health care, drinking water, basic education, and shelter are not available to millions - including many in the high-income countries. The World Health Organization, in its most recent reports, has recognized the relationship between income disparities and health status. Their figures show significantly lower overall health status in countries with wider income discrepancies than in countries with more equalized income distribution.

Emerging post-national identities have shown little capacity to withstand inequality, injustice, exclusion and violence. As Eduardo Portella, of Brazil, said of culture in the context of globalization:

To subordinate culture to criteria developed in the laboratories of the dominant ideology, which make a cult of the ups and downs of the stock market, the uncertainties of supply and demand, the snares of functionality and urgency, is to cut off its vital supply of social oxygen and to replace creative tension with the stress of the marketplace.

(Portella 2000)

The influence of economic globalization on the subordination of social justice, equality, basic rights and human dignity to the narrow constraints of economics cannot be missed. This is usually attributed to the increasing interdependence of national economies within the world market, and the idea that this has constrained the abilities of national governments to follow the economic, and therefore social, policies of their choice. This interdependence is seen as arising

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