Sunday, July 16, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" part ii

The Introduction to Fools' Crusade by Diana Johnstone begins with a parallel between the Kosovo War and the anti-globalization protests in Seattle; two events from 1999 which occured a hemisphere apart.

(She puts quotation marks around globalization in her text; Johnstone puts quotation marks around just about everything, actually; reality, including 8,000 murdered civilians, is just another "construct" in her world).

You and I might not see the connection--I will try very hard not to dismiss Johnstone's claims out of hand, at least when she is not lying or playing fast and loose with "facts". Globalization is a tricky concept which can mean different things to different people. It is often, if not usually, a term of derision as well.

The increasing economic interdependence of nations, and the concurrent growth of international trade, business, and financial organzations and entities are certainly crucial to understanding globalization. Objection to this process is that it undermines the ability of governments to protect their own population--poor, weak nations are theoretically forced into joining larger economic units, driving wages down and weakening labor rights, safety regulations, and environmental regulations. Commentators often speak of a "race to the bottom," a more and more formally well-paying jobs are outsourced and manufacturing jobs are moved from indutrialized nations to poorer countries with cheaper labor.

These are serious concerns, whether or not one agrees with the anti-globalization movement, and it is not hard to understand why the movement has gained political strength throughout much of Latin America, where economic insecurity and a history of Yankee indifference, interference, and intervention feed resentment.

However, Johnstone is not concerned about this aspect of globalization. Mexican farmers forced to leave their villages and give up their way of life in order to work at maquiladoras are not her concern. What bothers Johnstone about globalization is the threat it poses to the concept of sovereignty; which I'll roughly define as the ability of a country to control what goes on inside its borders. Defending the sovereignty of small nations against multinational corporations and the big bad United States might sound like a righteous, David-versus-Goliath stance. But that is not what is going on here. As we will see, Johnstone's concept of sovereignty is wrapped up in her conception of collectivism in its most tribal form.

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