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writing for godot

As I see it: Have all the facts about globalization and human rights in one place. (Part 1 of 2)

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Saturday, 12 September 2020 15:54

Human rights: Food for a crumbling thought  ‘HR and globalization’


Human Rights Reader 544


[**TLDR** (too long didn’t read): This Reader assembles assorted HR-thinking views about globalization; it includes a series of facts under fitting subtitles. For a quick overview, just read the bolded text].


-We will not go back to normal, because normal was the problem. (Graffiti in Santiago, Chile, Nov. 2019)


[I have learned a lot about activism in my years of circus. I now use this Reader to take stock of that experience. I can distill a good part of it in the form of more of my iron laws for human rights activists. Today, let me shower you (overwhelm you?) with some of the already well known facts about the stage of capitalism we are living under, but put in one place --precisely because they are so relevant to human rights (HR). (in no particular order)].


To start with

1. A plausible definition of globalization would be: Term used for the ability of international capital and TNCs to switch investments across the globe and simultaneously create wealth for the few, but depressing local wage rates and conditions of employment for the many.  Another definition would be: Globalization entails the removal of trade barriers, increased mobility of capital, technological change and rise in global consumerism. (K. Bezanson) Yet another definition says that globalization is the higher level of what we previously called liberalization; it is the imperialism of the last 30 years.*

*: What is the difference between imperialism and globalization other than the speed of the latter’s expansion?


Capitalists are like cats: You toss and throw them from any position  …and they always land on their feet (Louis Casado)


2. Making capitalism, colonialism and patriarchy seem to be separate entities having nothing to do with one another is ludicrous. The truth is that none of them has the power to rule alone. It takes the three riders of the apocalypse to make them almighty. In other words, as long as there is capitalism, there will be colonialism and patriarchy. (Boaventura de Sousa Santos)


3. The period we are living through is by no means contradictory; it perfectly embodies the logic of a system that prizes the movement (the usufruct and the enjoyment) of capital over the freedom of human beings. Bankers are very good at getting rich from the existing volatility in this movement. (Yanis Varoufakis) …and the rich get richer (and more powerful) …in part from investments in labor saving technologies. (Al Anderson)


4. As our century rolls along, capitalism-rechristened-as-market-economics rules in the vast majority of countries. Actually, what is referred to here is that peculiar form of capitalism called ‘the free market’ in which the affluent simply end up having more political clout. (Actually, ‘might is right’ has come back with a vengeance.)



Can globalization be equated with hopeless omnipotence?


-As is more and more obvious in the era of globalization, Northern intellectuals have abandoned their commitment to forcefully challenge exploitation and oppression.

-Consider: Climate and/or social/political indifference and their bogus intellectual justification are just the crude form of social Darwinism that pervades the modern ethos. (UNRISD)


5. Many professionals (colleagues of ours) still seem driven compulsively to simplify what is complex and to standardize what is diverse. (Robert Chambers) Take poverty: It is simply too complex to be reduced to a simple dimension.** (UNDP) In short, to mock ideals is to embrace cynicism and favor the status-quo. (Jacques Baudot)

**: If we take globalization and the pauperization it brings about for individuals and households, the connections are kept so patently intransparent as to make them almost invisible. (Charles Thomas). With globalization, communities in many countries in the South are no longer able to cope --and their coping strategies are diminishing by the day. (Julia Tagwireyi) As for countries, under globalization, annual losses to countries rendered poor run in the billions --more than what they receive in external funding and foreign direct investment. (Human Development Report 1997)


6. A ‘leave-it-up-to-the-Jonses’ attitude reflects a mix of insensibility and irresponsibility. It nevertheless is the prevalent attitude, i.e., people selectively rejecting (depending on their bias) some of the main features of globalization thus keeping important issues --HR violations one of them-- from surfacing in their critical consciousness. Sad!


7. Not trying to simplify complex relationships,

-globalization has brought and brings about marginalization on a massive scale plus an economic and political domination of a magnitude not seen since the colonial era.

-The globalization of the economy is turning out to be the globalization of poverty and the intensification of the plunder of the neo-colonies with their natural and human resources. (C. R. Bijoy)


8. The effects of globalization are thus terribly uneven and are responsible for big winners and losers. Moreover, globalization has brought about a shift in power where the nation state has weakened and there is a reduction in social and HR accountability. (Peter Hazell, IFPRI) It is, therefore, unlikely whether, today, the NGO concept has the potential to deliver the structural and HR changes needed under the current ‘conditions-of-globalization’; these condtiions are destroying livelihoods.


9. In short here, globalization is neither a natural process nor an inclusive one; it is rather a planned project, and, at that, one of exclusion. Growth through globalization is importantly based on the theft of people’s resources, knowledge and economies. In the globalization paradigm, the protection of people and the protection of nature are replaced by corporate protectionism. (Vandana Shiva)


What the people’s movements, therefore, want (and will eventually get) is ‘more’!


10. It is becoming clearer and clearer:  It will then be bottom-centered campaigns and struggles against poverty, tyranny, exploitation and oppression that will form the only sustainable basis of an intellectual renaissance --particularly because a minimalist stance towards globalization does no harm, but neither does it do any good.


11. Many political responses have been tried in the times of globalization. Here is a sample: levying truly progressive taxes; distribution of shares of privatized enterprises; targeted different subsidies and cash compensations; fairer severance payments and retirement benefits; wage subsidies; public works programs; increased government spending on social services, increased minimum wages; good unemployment benefits; job protection measures; keeping inflation under control; subsidizing cheaper staple foods….. (Individually applied, they have little effect! It is the faulty paradigm, Stupid!)


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

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-You may have heard this question particularly after COVID19: Is the world retreating from globalization? Protectionism is on the rise and industrialized countries are less open to imports from developing countries. In addition, there is by now a lot of competition. Trade does not lift all boats despite economists having argued for centuries that trade is good for the economy as a whole. Trade generates winners and losers with many losing out; the evidence is there despite some trying to discredit this… So, you be the judge.*** There are plenty of examples, especially in African countries, where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few… even when the tide rises, only very few boats rise. (Add to this capital flight…). Growth simply does not trickle down and does not improve the lot of those rendered poor. (Pinelopi K. Goldberg).

***: A balanced and realistic value-based answer is difficult if one considers the contemporary reality of a unipolar world with a Northern centered and Northern dominated economic order. If we do not participate in the paradigm of the North, we are outcasted. Furthermore, in the North, the deceptions are so brilliantly woven that falling for them is deemed as both fashionable and progressive. (C. R. Bijoy) your social media marketing partner
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