Globalization 2008 - The Eye in the Bermuda Triangle
Middle-Class Wealth Evaporates into the Black Hole of Manipulated Money Markets. Where Does It Go? Follow the Money...
For the average American, globalization in 2008 has come to mean the giant sucking sound as both labor and IT jobs have left our shores for outsourcing by cheaper labor in India, China, the Phillipines and other emerging markets. It also means competing for energy resources, particularly oil, with these same nations who now host their own versions of the upwardly mobile American Dream which has turned nightmare for many caught in the crunch of the Housing Bubble. Labor unions have lost much of their political clout and the importance of migrant labor to the US in agriculture and other low pay scale areas is being reconsidered. The Food Crisis of 2008 is likely to be followed soon by an increasing Water Crisis as more people compete for declining resources. There is likely to be a resurgence of interest in skills that help people live off the land, even if that small garden means tearing out prized lawns.
Emptyness at the Core
In DARK AGES AMERICA: The Final Phase of Empire, Morris Berman characterizes the USA: The United States is a belligerent, overstretched empire, saddled with huge deficits and a hollowed-out economy, vulnerable to terrorist blowback and, worse, collapse if foreign creditors finally pull the plug. Large segments of the US economy are held by the Chinese and Arab nations. Imagine what would happen if the US refused to honor those debts, or couldn't. The Greenback is failing as the global currency of choice, particularly for oil trading, replaced by the stronger Euro.
Titans of industry and politics hold sway over the populace and dictate the new corporate feudalism from a hijacked government. The rot is cultural and spiritual, too: Americans are cold, alienated shopaholics immured in suburban anomie, each encased in a private bubble of iTunes and media noise and indifferent to the public good. Entertainment and distraction is the first weapon of the transnational corpoglomerates who enslave the population from cradle to grave in the name of manic production and so-called progress. But how is progress progressive when it turns toxic and malignant for many in the Big Picture? Progress can be fatal.
Culprits include globalization, technology and, more fundamentally, the individualism and commercialism that is the bedrock of American identity. We're more connected yet more isolated than ever. The promises of Technotopia are hollow dreams. We voyeuristically worship celebrity without substance. Because narcissistic American civilization is a "package deal," it is impervious to piecemeal reform. Given Americans' ingrained "stupidity" and willful blindness, it is unsalvageable.
Concerned with policies and political issues, Athena's spiritual cry for our generation is "globalization." It sounds good at first but carries a dark shadow. Athena's cultural aims are accompanied by the bitch goddess Fame of rumor, ill-repute and public opinion. Politics, fame and fortune go hand in hand in the international Plutocracy.To the Romans, Fama was infamous for her more malicious side. Virgil in his Aeneid describes her as being small and fearful at first, then growing larger and stronger, as rumors do, until she fills the sky, standing with her head hidden by storm clouds. That might be a "Desert Storm." Virgil calls her a "dreadful monster" who never sleeps, and describes her as having swift feet and great wings with which she flies, spreading rumor quickly. He also says that at the base of every feather is an eye, an ear, and a mouth, which she uses to see, hear, and then disperse Her rumors, slander, and outright lies. She is the propaganda machine.
According to Ovid in his Metamorphoses, like a mogul Fama lives at the center of the world, where earth, sea, and sky meet. From there she can see and hear everything that goes on in the world. She keeps a stranglehold on the pulse of the world. Her home on a tall peak has no doors, only a thousand windows. It is made entirely of bronze, so that the slightest noise or whisper echoes and reverberates throughout.
When Alexander Pope first published The Temple of Fame (1715), a version of Chaucer's House of Fame, he defended his decision to write in the allegorical mode, thinly veiling true events as moral fable. But Fame, the sister of Fortune, decays. Cultural heroes come and go on the gilded throne. The Temple of Fame is accompanied by a Mansion of Rumor, where lies and truths are confounded in publicity and spread throughout the world by the Goddess Fame. Not even genuinely heroic achievement stills her restless ambition for more, more more.
The history of globalization is rooted in meta-control of jobs, goods, money and information -- in the marriage of religion, trade, armies, industry, technology, agriculture and banking. Its hidden goal is the chimera of the "cashless society." This is driven by the military/industrial complex of transnational corporations with little say from "We the People." The War on Terror is a hoax, cover for the big oil grab.
Before the Silk Road, long before 1492, people began to link together disparate locations on the globe into extensive systems of communication, migration, and interconnections. This formation of systems of interaction between the global and the local has been a central driving force in world history. Whoever controlled world trade controlled the powerbase. There is tremendous profit in the movement of raw materials and finished products.
Global means the expansive interconnectivity of localities -- spanning local sites of everyday social, economic, cultural, and political life -- a phenonmenon but also a spatial attribute -- so a global space or geography is a domain of connectivity spanning distances and linking localities to one another, which can be portrayed on maps by lines indicating routes of movement, migration, translation, communication, exchange, etc.
Globalization is the physical expansion of the geographical domain of the global -- that is, the increase in the scale and volume of global flows -- and the increasing impact of global forces of all kinds on local life. Moments and forces of expansion mark the major turning points and landmarks in the history of globalization.
New World Disorder
The globalization debate has rightly been called the grand ideological battle of the 21st century. New World Order globalization is equivalent to cultural imperialism. It has pitted student activists against corporate heads, union members against environmentalists, Mexican peasants against officials of the International Monetary Fund. Their main concern: the lack of citizen participation in decisions of international economics and trade policy. Their main enemy: institutions and corporations that work outside of the purview of democratically elected governments as transnational corpoglomerates.
In essence, globalization is redrawing the old ideological lines of the cold war. The Russians and Chinese are as firmly aligned against the interests of the West as ever. Nothing has changed but the rhetoric. No longer do people debate the merits of capitalism and communism. Rather, issues such as international trade, corporate power, national economic sovereignty, human rights and the transformation of indigenous cultures have moved to the center of the debate. New geopolitical lines cut not only the East from the West but the North from the South.
What is "globalization" and why should anyone care about it? There are a lot of different answers to this question, depending on whom you ask. The dominant view among people who write and speak about the issue is that globalization is an inevitable, technologically driven process that is increasing commercial and political relations between people of different countries. For them, it is not only a natural phenomenon, but primarily good for the world, although it is recognized that the process produces both "winners and losers."
There is a much deeper skepticism about the process among the general population. Most Americans believe that trade had reduced U.S. jobs and wages through Offshoring. This widening gap between elite and public opinion is striking, because it is not difficult to imagine how economic globalization might lower living standards for the majority of people in the United States. The idea that increasing competition from low-wage imports would drive U.S. wages downward seems only logical.
The fact that the real wage of the typical American worker has actually fallen over the past 25 years, as the economy had become increasingly globalized, is also an indicator that something is wrong with the process of globalization. As rising energy prices and higher mortgages with falling values demand more of our no-longer "disposable" income, families have to tighten their belts. So, who gains other than unregulated transnational corporations? One simply has to follow the money to see who the winners and losers are in this redistribution of wealth.
According to traditional economic theory, wage and salary earners gain from more open trade, because they get cheaper consumer goods. But it is clear, according to universally accepted measures of wages and salaries in the United States, that for most employees these gains from trade have been more than canceled out by other forces that have pushed their pay downward.
Debate within the economics profession has yet to influence the agenda of the major policy makers or corporations, who continue to strive for increasing globalization. Who gains and who loses from this process? We can define globalization as an increase in trade and capital flows across national boundaries. The history of fiat currency (credit creation to prevent banking system failure) is largely one of failure. Currency itself has become commodified and traded in the money market.
What does the balance of payments include? It is divided into two parts: the balance of trade, and what economists call the current account, because it includes more than just trade—things like foreign interest payments and transfers. While "current account" is the proper term, many people use "trade balance" and "current account balance" interchangeably, since trade is the biggest item in the current account.
The second part of the balance of payments is called the capital account. This measures the purchase and sale of assets across national boundaries. A simple way to distinguish between the two accounts of the balance of payments is that the capital account measures international investing, borrowing, and lending—whereas the current account measures just about everything else.
The international balance of payments accounting is very similar. If we import more than we export, we must either borrow or sell assets internationally, in order to finance that trade deficit. That means we are adding to our foreign debt. (This is not to be confused with our national debt, which is owed mainly to people and institutions here).
Horrific, unsustainable debt burdens raise the question of whether some countries might be better off just defaulting on their debt—that is, refusing to pay it. Even if they were punished by international banks and investors.
The answer to this question depends partly on how one evaluates the gains that they get from international trade and investment—i.e., increasing globalization. Is globalization progress? Nearly all of the experts and journalists who write about this subject would answer at least a qualified "yes" to this question. There is a certain inevitability as increasing mobility and outsourcing has moved us past the tipping point. Components of most manufactured goods come from several global areas. So does food.
For some, there is a natural progression from the medieval fiefdoms of Europe to the nation-state, to the increasing importance of international institutions such as the UN or the IMF. Others are in less of a hurry to build the institutions of world government, but nonetheless see the increase in trade and commercial relations between countries as a step forward for humanity. And almost everyone views the process of globalization as inevitable in any case, flowing naturally from advances in communications, transportation, and other technological changes.
Fact and Fancy
It is certainly possible to imagine a world in which globalization could raise the standard of living for the majority of the world’s people. It could increase the size of markets and the efficiency of production, allow countries who are short on capital to borrow from those who have a surplus, and even break down some of the barriers and prejudices that have contributed to military conflicts in the past. But the historical record of the current era of globalization is quite another story.
As noted above, the typical wage earner in the United States has suffered a decline in real wages since 1973. It is important to recognize that this decline is at least partly a result of a choice to pursue a particular form of globalization.
Our political leaders have chosen to negotiate, over a period of decades, a set of rules that has thrown U.S. workers into increasing competition with much lower-paid counterparts throughout the world. This has had the effect, not surprisingly, of lowering wages for most Americans. Not only manufacturing but professional jobs and management are outsourced.
The latter set of problems has been recognized, to varying degrees, by pro-globalization economists and policy-makers. However, they tend to emphasize the benefits or potential benefits of globalization. For trade, they rely on a simple but abstract economic theory: the principle of comparative advantage.
This theory asserts that all countries are made better off by moving toward freer trade. The idea is that different countries are relatively more efficient at producing different things. On this basis it is easy to demonstrate that the world can benefit if each country specializes in the production of those goods that it can produce most efficiently and trades with other countries who do likewise.
There are a number of problems with this theory when it is applied to the real economy. First of all, even the theory itself does not assert that everyone in each country is made better off through freer trade. There are "winners and losers," and the theory only predicts that for the entire country the gains outweigh the losses. In other words, there is a profound bias against any kind of national economic development strategy.
The obvious problem with this application of the theory of comparative advantage is that it rules out most of the strategies that the developed countries of the world have used in order to attain the standard of living that they enjoy today. The extreme case can be seen in Russia, where industry has been practically dismantled under IMF supervision since the demise of the Soviet Union.
Russia now produces almost nothing but energy. In the process, Russia’s economy has shrunk by more than half in just a few years, and they have suffered an increase in poverty and declines in life expectancy that are historically unprecedented, in the absence of war or natural disaster.
Critics of globalization argue that the experience of the last two decades—in which the architects of the global economy have increasingly re-crafted the economies of most of the world towards their ideal of unified international markets—has been a failure by almost any measure of economic performance. And there is no reason to assume that institutions that are controlled by a small group of people from one or a handful of high income countries adequately represent the interests of the world’s poor and working people.
For the most prominent policy makers and writers on this topic, "reform" is synonymous with the opening of markets, privatization, and reducing the role of government in the economy. Indeed this has become the standard definition of reform in the media.
For most of these people, the recent economic turmoil is just a bump in the road toward a more integrated world economy and the social progress that it promises. They generally favor increased regulation for "emerging market" banking and financial systems, as well as greater "transparency"—that is, better information for investors.
In the United States, whose (shadow) government has been the most powerful advocate of the current form of globalization, measures to ameliorate the worst excesses of the global economy—either here or abroad—will most likely not be warmly received.
Proponents of such changes throughout the world will be dismissed as "imperialists," "warmongers," "protectionists," and worse. Some leaders have right-wing or authoritarian ideologies attached to them. Neocon-er political manipulation has already systematically gutted the American middle class economically and driven the costs of energy skyward and sent housing markets plummeting.
But this does not mean all pro-national, regional, or local economic development policies are misguided. Or that those who have been working overtime to "write the constitution of a single, global economy" are right. Restructuring of global politics and economics will likely prove as historically significant as any event since the Industrial Revolution. This restructuring is happening at tremendous speed, with little public disclosure of the profound consequences affecting democracy, human welfare, local economies, and the natural world.
So far, globalization policies have contributed to increased poverty, food crisis, increased inequality between and within nations, increased hunger, human displacement, increased corporate concentration, decreased social services and decreased power of labor vis-a-vis global corporations. Transnationals have little accountability to their host nations.
There is a gulf between the physical economy of making, producing and inventing and the monetary economy of financial manipulation. The manufacturing base of the US has been outsourced to its detriment as workers are permanently displaced. Technical jobs have not kept pace and are likewise outsourced. Education alone is not the solution to replacing these jobs in the real world, though that is the mythic litany.
It looks like Zeus, (the oligarchic ruling economic geopolitical power), will continue to have a huge headache, until the wisdom of Athena can be born or spring forth. It seems unlikely to be found in the current form of New World Order which is rapidly losing its political momentum. If the mytheme prevails, some form of Hephaistus, some technology, will split the whole situation wide open for a new truth to emerge. Could it be cyber-culture?
In his new book Imaginary Futures: From Thinking Machines to Global Village (2008), Dr. Richard Barbrook belatedly reports on a phenomenon already in progress. Politics influences the Internet, but revolutionary politics is now in the hands of the people to create a more positive future.
The most important political issues of the time are debated on the Net from the most radical to conservative approaches. The radical difference is that the "dotcommunists" include inventors, philosophers, pop culture commentators and more participating in this widened discussion. New ideas are distilled down to their viable essence and can 'go global' in a heartbeat through the viral nature of netlife.
On the other hand, technology can be used to control and distract us. But the Techno-enthusiasm of the Information Age reminds us how important it is for us to dream and maintain some positive vision of our collective future. What that Vision Statement is remains to be seen.
"It was Plato who introduced ‘the division between those who know and do not act and those who act and do not know'", Paul Wildman explained in his article in the Journal of Futures Studies. "After Plato in the West we have doggedly followed a staunchly mechanist view, identified with Newton, that ‘The Universe was a mechanical one whose order was maintained by a distant God'. Newton in fact wrote more on alchemy than mathematics: he saw the universe enlivened by emotion and love. These works remain unpublished. The results of this split are readily seen today in terms of the specialisation of skills, separation of academia from actual social change projects, separation of producing from consuming e.g. we are moving rapidly away from being ‘prosumers' - having our own gardens, making our own clothes and other bush mechanic type activities. Arendt (1963) claims this is the challenge for modernity: to re-braid thinking and doing.
In today's complex and turbulent world it is vital to have futurists who can collaborate on collective projects, focus on action codified in exemplar projects and validate actions towards a better world. Unfortunately, current ‘education’ systems focus almost exclusively on the individual learner and have separated the learner from the praxis of the lived life. Furthermore, classrooms separate the learner from design, production and integration of learning into community life. Overcoming this separation of thinking and doing is one of the key challenges for modernity in future, in particular.
We may be able to meet this challenge as innovative individuals who look forward wisely and solve collective problems today through applying ingenuity with what is available, thus integrating thinking, doing and being in what in ancient times was called poiesis.Human knowledge of neg-entropic processes is urgently needed to avoid extinction. Sir Isaac Newton referred to the basic universal physics as a profound living philosophy to balance the mechanical description of the universe. This has become known as ethical physics and is known today through the logic of life viz. fractal logic the logic of neg-entropy. The holographic universe that such an approach begets and in turn begets it, is infinite, open, evolutionary and ethical – the new logic. This new logic needs to become the model for our social sciences such as economics. (Paul Wildman, Ph.D.)
VIRTUAL PERSONALITIES:Interacting & Teaching in Social Networks; Gender Reunion; Makers, Producers and Servers, Communicative Action, Learning in Action; Action Research; Social Negentropy. An integrated politics of partnership no longer splits off the "private sphere" from the "public sphere" or "women's rights" and "children's rights" from "human rights." The personal is political.
Some characteristics of social neg-entropy are:
Giving (in that giving from the heart without necessary expectation of return generates good will – an esoteric form of neg-entropy)
· Empathy (care and concern for others health and well being as well as yourself)
· Net energy creation (as contrasted to an energy sink)
· Organologic (such as diversity encouraging, fractal geometry, spectral-reserve, self-organisation, recursiveness)
· Diversity harmonising; Conformity centralisation
· Informal/outside the box (in that all the formal economic structures are now seriously entropic and generally shrink wrap any within house initiative); not one best way; the whole is more than the sum of the parts, neg-waste (another word for entropy)
· Trans rational from either or to either and ie. towards the theory of the included middle where something can be both a and b rather than only a or b – with no middle overlap
· Replacing black with green letter law – this means being rewarded for what we will do right tomorrow and not punished for what we did wrong today. Wildman (2003).
BRIDGING & BONDING:
Wider and Deeper Global Networking; Learning Circles; Emotional and Action Learning
Value is viable and thus valuable neg-entropic complexity and evolution may be seen as the increasing of diversity within this viable complexity through self-organisation and fractal logic. This will then lead to the emergence of something valuable and potentially viable which can be found by such self-organising fluctuations among the neighbouring possibilities.
Physical Economy and Monetary Economy; Fractally Embedded Self-Reliant Economic and Political Systems; Creative Partnership Futures
Positive Sum Situations; Intentional Community; Anticipating Emerging Issues; Deliberative Democracy
Tocqueville 1825 identified a form of oppression as ‘mild despotism’, which he saw as erosion of liberty far more serious than violent form of despotism characteristic of feudal societies. Corporate feudalism rolls back the world clock by imposing propagandized groupthink of the lowest common denominator:
‘it covers society's surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules though which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd: it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them, and directs them; it really forces one to act, and constantly opposes itself to one’s acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannise, it hinders, compromises enervates (deprives, weakens), extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each person to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals (robots?) of which the government is the shepherd.’ Young, T. (2001). How to Loose Friends and Alienate People. London: Abacus. Pg 38
Self-Organizing Chaos, Order and Negentropy.
We may be able to organize boundary conditions under which evolution on earth can continue. These boundary conditions are therefore no longer purely biological they have evolved to be culturological. The spreading of this logical insight about the primacy of mental and cultural evolution is the key task, which, we have to fulfill in a hurry, and globally. We need a Socio-Cultural Neg-Entropic Innovation Process and we only have a generation to do it.
Such a Neg-Entropic Social Innovation Process (NESIP) needs to focus on:
· Global Governance
· Global responsiveness to socio-cultural events and acts of terrorism
· Zones of Social Innovation – resorced e.g. through private philanthropy or the UN
· Strong commitment to improve the health and well being of all people and peoples
· The Physics Of Love ennobles relationships between living entities and enriches our planet leading to a deeper respect for all life and what supports it. This way of being is called ‘relatio’ where relationships, as a way of knowing, become neg-entropic. Wildman (1996)
Evergreen Revolution; Metafuture; Compassionate Community; Collective Responsibility. Futuring means bringing proactive concrete responses to future issues into present-day operation. Rebraiding thinking and doing, this approach is suitable to present day challenges derived from global issues. This ancient approach to futuring demonstrates a better tomorrow today.
Doom or Boom; Top 10 Predictions of Change
· Forecast #10: More decisions will be made by nonhuman entities. Electronically enabled teams in networks, robots with artificial intelligence, and other noncarbon life-forms will make financial, health, educational, and even political decisions for us. Reason: Technologies are increasing the complexity of our lives and human workers' competency is not keeping pace well enough to avoid disasters due to human error.