Talk on this subject has been dormant within the circles I move in here in Vancouver, but I’m sure the topic will come up again before long–this is Vancouver, after all, and people here who style themselves activists have a real bone to pick with globalization–or, rather, what they think it is. So, before that happens, I’ll tell you all my thoughts (right now) on globalization.
Wikipedia defines globalization as ‘the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views (sic), products, ideas, and other aspects of culture.’ This integration and interchange has occurred for thousands of years, at least since the Middle Ages, if not earlier. Sure, much of globalization from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century manifested in the form of imperialism, but discoveries were made and exchanges took place. Now, in the age of air travel and the Internet, globalization is inevitable. Thanks to today’s technology and communications infrastructure, the world is growing increasingly interconnected and pluralistic. It even helps with activism, by enabling activists to coordinate their activities via the Internet–the 1999 protest against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, for instance.
Now I have to address a couple of major issues I have with those who bash globalization: first, the way they freak out when they see anyone in a different nation (especially if said nation is underdeveloped) wearing, say, a Roots or Abercrombie and Fitch T-shirt (with or without traditional garb) while themselves enjoying things such as sushi, yoga, or anime in their own backyards–apparently not realizing they can’t have their cake and eat it, too–and talk about the concept of globalization as if it’s not a system of give and take–in effect, confusing, and conflating, the definitions of globalization and imperialism, the latter of which is what they’re really against. The thing is, ‘globalization’ and ‘imperialism’ are not synonyms. Granted, globalization can be done better, by acknowledging power dynamics between nations and ensuring more developed nations don’t take advantage of less developed nations; however, the attitude of ‘what’s best for business’ being the highest priority, rather than globalization, has wreaked ecological, economic, social, and other forms of havoc. P.S.: Complaints about people in different nations wearing, eating, or using, etc. items made by North American, European, etc. companies just create a tempest in a teapot.
I’m all for calling out injustice and inequality. But let’s make sure we learn the definitions of the words we use, and stick to the real issues.