Magazine article Tikkun

Pathologies of Globalization

Magazine article Tikkun

Pathologies of Globalization

Article excerpt

Pathologies of Globalization

People around the world have been resisting the process of corporate globalization for a century, yet the form that resistance has taken has often been irrational and self-destructive.

It's not hard to understand why many people resist. While there are tens of millions of people around the globe whose economic conditions are improving as a result of globalization, there are hundreds of millions who are actually worse off. Moreover, the globalization of capital brings with it a massive dose of Western consumer culture, with its glorification of the individual over the community and its worship of material success over all other values. The disintegration of family and community loyalties, the manipulation of sexual imagery to sell consumer products, the development of lonely and alienated individuals, the sense of being unseen by others except in terms of how we can be of use for their own self-advancement or pleasure--all of these contribute to a massive social dislocation which shapes the contemporary world.

While some people have managed to turn the collapse of communities and the creation of a global market society into an opportunity for self-enrichment, there are millions of others who have not been so fortunate and who experience the "progress" we hail in the West as an assault likely to destroy the communities and solidarity that are their only protection from the ravages of a heartless world.

When they turn to religious fundamentalism or ultranationalism they hear a very comforting message: you are valuable not because you are a success in the competitive marketplace, but simply and solely because you are one of us. Unfortunately, that comfort is often linked with the demeaning of some Other--the people who are not part of this group.

The corporate media portray these people as just crazy and suggest that the only way to counter their irrationality is to accelerate the globalization of capital and its consumer culture. Once that happens, we are assured, everyone will forget their particularities and become part of the one universal culture of the consumer marketplace. Of course, what this picture leaves out is that it is precisely the dynamics of the marketplace which have caused people to seek ultranationalist and religious fundamentalist solutions in the first place. So the struggle gets defined in terms that lead us to say "no" to both sides: "no" to the globalization of selfishness, and "no" to the reactionary nationalist and fundamentalist responses.

For these reasons, we need a different kind of political movement, one that can respond compassionately to people who are driven to seek irrational responses to real and pressing pain, but one that simultaneously rejects nationalism and fundamentalism with their accompanying racism, sexism, and homophobia. That's what we mean when we talk about the need for a Politics of Meaning--and for a new bottom line to replace the bottom line of money and power.

To begin, we need to learn to say "no":

No to Russia's Murderous Policy in Chechnya

For an example of how resentment against capitalist globalization gets displaced onto others, look at the ultra-nationalist unity emerging in Russia as its economically-challenged citizens sweep Vladimir Putin into the presidency as the reward for his near-genocidal policies against Chechnya.

No one can blame the Russian people for being angry at the Chechen Islamic thugs ("field commanders" who operated outside the control of the elected government and without its sanction) who invaded neighboring Dagestan and saw themselves as warriors for Allah. …

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