What is globalizaton?

"I would define globalization as the freedom for my group to invest where and when it pleases, to produce what it pleases, by getting supplies and selling where it pleases, and by having to put up with as few constraints as possible with regard to working rights and social conventions."

-President ABB industrial group

It is common wisdom to present globalization as something positive and closely associated with human progress. Moreover, globalization is presented as a neutral process, with some very real and unfortunate evils, but due mainly to the mismanagement of this new reality. After all, what can you do, it's a cruel world and there will always be losers. One way or another, globalization is inevitable, and the only solution is "to adapt".

When attempts are made to define globalization, one of the most common short cuts is to say that it is synonymous with commercial exchanges between peoples and nations. This is a serious mistake. Such a definition gives rise to dangerous permutations. Presenting globalization as a simple internationalization of commercial exchanges in no way reflects the new reality. Globalization constitutes a quantitative and qualitative leap of a whole different order.

In globalization we are confronted with an entirely new era. Old analyses and paradigms no longer apply. We can no longer look at today's world as we did 30, or even 15 years ago.

One thing is sure, the impact of globalization - and of its national counterpart, neoliberalism (with its infernal trio of Liberalization, Deregulation and Privatization) - are everywhere apparent: economic growth with ensuing job loss (with 40,000 layoffs per year over the last 10 years at the 100 biggest multinational corporations), a world heating up like a steaming kettle (transport of products throughout the planet = gas consumption = greenhouse effect = climatic changes), war and intolerance setting entire regions ablaze in the wake of 'structural adjustments', like those imposed on Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and elsewhere.

The term globalization is much too technical, too neat, considering the odious reality it harbours. When looked at closely, globalization is in fact the culmination of an age-old trend toward worldwide domination. Globalization conceals the Western, and particularly American, elite's takeover of the world's peoples and resources.

A Thousand-Year-Old Dynamic

Globalization feeds off the deadly dynamics of renewed, unbridled capitalism. But its origins go back even further than those of mercantilism, capitalism's ancestor. Globalization is the pursuit on a worldwide scale of the last millennium's vast colonial and proslavery undertaking. In that sense, the globalizers of the big multinational corporations or large international institutions land on our shores like so many conquistadors, albeit not with muskets in hand or cannons (though these have done a bang-up job for more than 500 years and whose progeny, it must be said, are still very much with us). Rather, they now arrive with briefcases bulging with commercial projects, free-trade agreements and conditional loans. Our world conquerors are still reaching the same objectives to submit entire populations and their resources to the dictates of money-grubbing, brutal and murderous foreign-based powers.

Because it is also typically the work of an exclusive clique of men who are the new lords and masters of the world, globalization is the ultimate patriarchal scheme. It is completing the long work, undertaken more than 2,000 years ago, of concentrating power and riches in the hands of a supreme male elite.

Financial Globalization

At the heart of globalization is the incredible growth of speculative capital since 1971, an infernal machine making money out of money.

It's Russian roulette on a worldwide scale. The gargantuan size of the speculative sphere is almost impossible to grasp. Consider this: institutional investors alone have US $210,000 billion at their disposal. This sum represents more than twice the gross domestic product (GDP) of all industrialized countries combined.

Between US $1,800 and 2,000 billion (enough $1 coins to be stacked to the moon and back 63 times) are in daily circulation with the sole aim of influencing exchange rates and of siphoning still more from working people and the environment. Such speculation creates enormous risks and an altogether unpredictable future. The growing number of financial crises - the Asian crisis, for example, has thrown more people out on the street than the Great Depression of the 1930s - is proof, if there was further need of it, that the world is in the crazed grip of the almighty dollar. But fear not, for the financial markets already have the solution: derivatives, the very ones in which the Montreal Stock Exchange has just decided to specialize. These are part of a multitude of financial products whose aim is precisely to alleviate economic uncertainty - a kind of insurance policy where, for a minimal amount, your risk is secured. Thus are speculators and financiers at once pyromaniacs and fire-insurance salespeople. Either way, they come out on top. Financial markets have become a destructive lottery where the lure of money makes a daily mockery of the rest of humanity.

Unprecedented Upheaval On A Worldwide Scale

Never throughout history have so many problems culminated in so much suffering: massive impoverishment the likes of which have never been seen before, an increase in the number of wars with the inevitable consequence of floods of refugees, systematic large-scale violation and suppression of women's and children's rights, environmental destruction so widespread it has given rise to huge and apparently irreversible climatic changes, not to mention near-terminal cancer for our long-suffering little blue planet...

Emerging from behind globalization and its loathsome profiteers in three-piece power suits is a world at death's door, a world in which 30 million children a year, or 340 children an hour, die as a result of the bread taken out of their mouths.

The Conquest of the Living

Globalization is not merely a geographical phenomenon. Globalization aims to conquer and colonize every last atom of life. Water, forests, and the world's last remaining fertile lands are bearing the brunt of it, and biotechnology is setting out to privatize the very fundamental code of life. What does it matter what remains of what is free, wholesome, just and lasting if it cannot be exploited for the benefit of the privileged few'

Once patented, the genes of everything that grows, breathes and propagates can finally appear in the profit columns of Monsanto, Novartis, and other members of this new breed of parasitic globalized organizations.

Globalization throws the whole world into question. Agreements such as the MAI or those currently being concocted by the WTO (World Trade Organization) show us how far the new world conquerors are willing to go. Operation SalAMI, along with other movements, has clearly demonstrated that not all the cards have yet been played. The people have not yet had the last word. We, too, have a world to fight for - a real world, a just and peace-loving world, a living and joyful world.

-Philippe Duhamel