Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

STATE OF DENIAL OR JUST PLAIN BLAME SHIFTING
January 31, 2007

welcome to my corner of the world a place i prefer to call my universa for social and political shock therapy. I am glad you could stop bye and visit with me for moment or two. I am writing this blog piece to wake up your inner consciousness and to let you think for a moment or two about what is really going on. You see my blog land friends i am still trying to understand why President Bush should take all the blame for what is going on in Iraq, after all as far as I can recollect it was with the blessings of the majority of our representatives in congress and the overwhelming support of the American people that the president ordered a preemptive strike on Saddam Hussein’s army. To my recollection it was with the blessing and overwhelming support of both Houses of congress (Senate and the House of Representatives) that Mr. Bush sent our young brave men and women to Iraq to put down a dictator and a tyrant who was threatening the stability of the Arab world and the Persian Gulf Region under the pretentious search for weapons of mass destruction that our American and British intelligence communities claim Saddam Hussein had stockpiled, or in the process of stockpiling. That in my view was a justifiable though a pretentious reason to topple a dangerous dictator and tyrant like Saddam whose massive army had waged a senseless, brutal, unprovocative war on one of neighbors and had moved his massive army said to be the 4th largest army in the world at that time to invade and occupy another neighbor. A man who was head of a regime many people believed and factually so, was one of the most brutal regimes of the twentieth and twenty-first century. Call it false pretense or what you will, it was with the overwhelming support of the American people and the representatives of all the people in congress that the president as commander in-chief of all the armed forces ordered a preemptive military strike against Saddam’s military. What then is the finger pointing and the blaming the president for the war is all about? Why should the president alone take all the blame for the miscalculations and the outcome of what is now becoming a quagmire? I don’t think we should be finger pointing and shifting the blame of a war gone bad solely on the President, now that things are out of control in Iraq? Talking about a State of Denial, it is not Mr. Bush alone who should be blamed for the unforeseeable in Iraq, it is us the American people who gave our overwhelming support to the president to wage a war against Saddam’s Iraq, that are in a State of Denial. After all, we are a democratic society with a republican form of government, and congress has the purse of the string to withhold funds for a war if they so wishes. Don’t forget the War Powers Act, has given that option to congress, and if the people of this great country were not in favor of a war against Saddam’s Iraq, they should have sent a petition to their representatives in congress to withhold funds needed to fight the war at the very beginning. Did congress withheld funds needed to fight the war five years ago? Did any of our leading media outlets call for congress to withhold funds? to my recollection nothing of that sort happened….. What then is the hypocrisy of blaming the president now all about, especially from members of his own party?

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Globalization and National Autonomy
January 30, 2007

Political Scientist Robert Gilpin (1987: 389) defines globalization as the increasing interdependence of national economies in trade, finance and macroeconomic policies. Globalization is a process fueled by, and resulting in, increasing cross – border flows of goods, services, money, people, information, and culture. It, offers extensive opportunities for truly worldwide development but it is not progressing evenly. Some countries are becoming integrated into the global economy more quickly than others. Countries that have been able to integrate are seeing faster growth and reduced poverty. Outward oriented policies have brought dynamism and greater prosperity to much of East Asia, transforming it from one of the poorest areas of the world 40 years ago, into one of the most vibrant economies.

By contrast, when many countries in Latin America and Africa pursued inward oriented -policies in the 1970s and 1980s, their economies stagnated or declined, poverty increased and high inflation became the norm. In many cases, especially in Africa, adverse external developments made the problems even worse. The Fragmented, discontinuous, contradictory and contingent nature of globalization invites skeptics to make argument that it is not proceeding as fast as generally believed, that it is not spreading uniformly across the globe, or that it is not strong enough to erase cross-national differences. One of the key issues surrounding globalization is whether this process has outgrown the governance structures of the international system of states; and whether the process of globalization is undermining the authority of the nation state.

Economist Raymond Vernon (198: 249, 256-270) for example, has long argued that the spread of multinational corporations creates “destructive political tensions” and there is need to reestablish balance between political and economic institutions. Historian Paul Kennedy (1993: 53-64, 122-134) asserts that governments are losing control, and that globalization erodes the position of labor in developing countries, and degrades the environment. “Today’s global society” he writes, “confronts the task of reconciling technological change and economic integration with traditional political structures, national consciousness, social needs, institutional arrangements, and habitual ways of doing things” (Kennedy 1993: 330).
In a similar vein, Kobrin (1997: 157, 159) argues that globalization challenges both autonomy and independent decision-making of the state and “raises questions about the meaning of sovereignty in its external sense of a system ordered in terms of mutually exclusive territoriality.” Political Scientists Yoshikazu Sakamoto (1994) and Robert Cox (1996: 26-27) concur in arguing that globalization generates problems of international governance and reduce the regulatory power of the states. Rodrik (1997) argues that globalization creates social and political tensions within and across nation-state. Political theorists Michael Mosher (1999:35)asks, “Is there a successful way of reconciling the boundary transgressing character of markets with the boundary maintaining activities of nation-states?” He further notes that globalization has placed two liberal practices the Liberalism of the market and the Liberalism of democratic citizenship on a collision, raising the dilemma of whether “moral concerns stop at the national border” (Mosher 1999: 25).

The analysis by British political economist Susan Strange is perhaps the most sophisticated articulation of the position that the international system of nation -states and the nation-state itself are coming under fire in a global world. She writes about the “declining authority of states,” and preempts several possible criticisms. First, she argues that the state interventionism is on the rise, but it mostly has to do with increasingly marginal matters. Second, she argues that there are more states in the world, especially after 1989, but that most of the new ones are weak and lack control. Third, she points out that the effectiveness of the East Asian State in orchestrating economic growth was only possible in post World War II order in which protectionism of the domestic market was acceptable and mature technologies were available ( Strange 1994: 4-6) She further observes three power shifts in the global world, namely, from weak to strong states, from states to markets, and from labor markets to financial markets, and argues that some power has evaporated or dispersed (Strange1996:189) Some Scholars have argued that globalization is a feeble process.

They maintain that it can be easily handled by nation-states. For example, Hirst and Thompson (1996: 143-149, 179-194) assert that states can cope with globalization, although they have lost some freedom of action, especially concerning financial flows. Feeble proponents, however, are not the only ones against the claim that globalization undermines the nation-state. Neorealist International Relations Scholar Robert Gilpin (1987:389-406) points out that globalization has reinforced the importance of domestic policies, as countries engaged in regionalization, sectoral protectionism, and mercantilistic competition during the 1980s in response to changes in the international location of activities, resulting in a “mixed system,” increasingly globalized and at the same time fragmented.

A related, though distinct, argument against the presumed loss of state power in the wake of globalization comes from Political Scientist Leo Panitch (1996: 84-86). He argues that “today’s globalization is authored by states and is primarily about reorganizing rather than bypassing them.” Another influential Political Scientist, Saskia Sassen (1996: 25-30), maintains that the state does not lose significance. Rather, there is a redefinition of modern features of sovereignty and territoriality, a denationalizing of national territory.” According to most political scientists, therefore, the nation-state is alive and well, and the Westphalian order is unlikely to be replaced by a fragmented medieval one.

Finally, the world-society view also rejects the claim that globalization undermines nation-states. Noting the expansion of state bureaucracies since World War II, Meyer (1997: 157) writes that “globalization certainly poses new problems for states, but it also strengthens the world-cultural principle, that nation-state are the primary actors charged with identifying and managing those problems on behalf of their societies.” This argument is strikingly similar to the one offered by Panitch (1996: 84-86). The modern nation-state, world-society scholars conclude, “may have less autonomy than earlier but it clearly has more to do.” The analysis and critique presented in this reaction paper indicates that globalization, far from being a feeble phenomenon, is changing the nature of the world. However, it is neither an invariably civilizing force nor a destructive one. Political Scientist Ngaire Woods (2003) cautioned that “Governments need delicately to balance sovereignty and reaping the benefits of globalization.”

In his earlier publication of the Political Economy of Globalization (2000) Woods had asserted that “Globalization does not prohibit strong governments from maintaining welfare and good working conditions and how governments can cooperate to manage the flow of goods, people and problems across the borders.” He also asserted that surrendering some sovereignty and submitting to global rules will unshackle global commerce from messy national interventions; the result he claimed will “benefit all countries.” In Globalization and National Autonomy’ Woods (2003) seemed to be reversing his position on the issue of Globalization and National Autonomy’ study he had published in The Political Economy of Globalization” of the benefits of nation-states giving up national autonomy in a globalize economy. In his (London 2003) Review, he does not seem to be the optimist he once was in his earlier publication. He asserted that “the evidence of the impact of liberalization in countries across the world economy gives pause for thought to governments considering giving up national autonomy to integrate further into the world economy.” Woods concluded this time with less enthusiasm “evidence has been adduced to show that liberalization and globalization have been bad for developing countries.”

In conclusion globalization is neither a monolithic nor an inevitable phenomenon.
Its impact varies across countries, societal sectors and time. It is fragmented, contradictory, discontinuous, and even haphazard. It is centered on cross border flows and global communication and has affected two distinct features of the modern state: sovereignty and exclusive territoriality. In many nation-states, globalization has been accompanied by the creation of new legal regimes and practices. To many observers that process has been U.S. driven. In many countries, international or transnational has become a form of Americanization. Global capital has made claims on national states, which have responded through the production of new forms of legality. Globalization has undercut the social bargain that many nation-states in the developing countries have adopted since they became a nation-state after colonialism.

References

Cox, Robert W. 1996. “A Perspective on Globalization.” In Globalization: Critical
Reflections, edited by James H. Mittelman. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Gilpin, Robert. 1987. The Political Economy of International Relations.
Princeton, NJ: University Press.
Kennedy, Paul. 1993. Preparing for the Twenty-First Century.
New York: Random House.
Kobrin, Stephen J. 1997 “The Architecture of Globalization: State Sovereignty in a
Networked Global Economy,” Government, Globalization, and International
Business. New York: Oxford University Press.
Panitch, Leo. 1996. “Rethinking the Role of the State in Globalization Critical
Reflections.Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Rodrik, Dani. 1997. Has Globalization Gone too Far?
Washington DC: Institute of International Economics.
Sakamoto, Yoshikazu. 1994. Global Transformation: Challenges to the State System.
New York: United Nations University Press.
Strange, Susan. 1996. The Retreat of the State: The Diffusion of Power in World
Economy. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Sassen, Saskia. 1996. Losing Control? Sovereignty in an Age of Globalization.
New York: Columbia University Press

Turkey and the European Union
January 27, 2007

Entry for December 09, 2006 magnify

I was reading a response a friend had written in her blog entry explaining why Europe is very reluctant to admit Turkey as a member to the EU. She mentioned Islams’ unequal treatment of women,  as being among many of the other cultural reasons for Europes refusal to admit Turkey as a member of EU. Islamophoebia aside, how can someone pass a judgement on an issue they are ignorant about is nothing short of the highest form of arrogance for lack of a word appropriate enough to describe that sort of misapprehension. Islam is the only religion that provided an equal and just treatment in its Holy text (the Quran) for women. Because men are what we are, a very weak creature by creation that cannot control his inclination and sexual drives, the Holy Quaran commanded all believers who have procliamed their belief in Islam and the supremacy of their creator the one and only God to protect the rights of women and to threat them justly if men fear God their creator or else man will have to answer to Him come the Day of Judgment when no soul can avail another and every soul will be treated according to their good deeds on this earth. All muslims are commanded to protect the rights of women and to treat them justly for fear of Hell fire. Concerning adultery, both men and women the Holy Quran commanded will receive equal punishment for violating their  sacred oath of matrimony. When a man accuses his wife of committing adultery that man should produce three witnesses who shall swear an oath to tell the truth. If the tribunal discovered that any one of those three witnesses is not telling the truth, that witness will be forever prevented from ever being a witness to any case as long as that witness is alive. The same punishment given to a woman if found guilty for committing adultery is the same punishment that is also given to a man who is found guilty of adultery. To go beyond the laws which are man made laws, that anyone with wealth and fame with a sound and schrewd lawyer can be found innocent or not guilty by his peers as we do her in the west, Islam made it very clear that if the truth is twisted those who are responsible for twisting the truth and the guilty parties will be severely punished for their injustice in the Day of Judgement. So my friends, you can’t say that a man or any person who is a believer of the faith, and who believes in the Day of Judgement and the Fire of Hell will be willing to risk God’s retribution just so that he can please his fellowman or woman her on earth. What none believers of Islamic faith don’t understand is that their is a Higher Power greater than all the worldly powers here on earth, that everyone regardless of religious belief, or social standing here on earth will have to answer to. Like the Holy Bible said, “what does it benefit a man (a person) to gain the fortunes of this world and suffer his/her soul in eternity. Just think about that next time you want to discuss a subject that you are very ignorant about.  I will continue this discussion some other day, waiting for  any responses you may have.

Challenges and Backlash of Globalization and Global Finance Capitalism
January 25, 2007


Globalization and Global Finance Capitalism has fostered a flowering of both wealth and technological innovation the like of which the world has never known. This sort of rapid economic, social and cultural mores has challenged traditional business practices, social structures, and cultural mores and environments and as a result has generated a substantial backlash in both the developed and underdeveloped nations. It seems the more markets generate both capital and economic growth for the forces driving globalization and global finance capitalism the more widespread and diverse the disruption. The purpose of this paper is to examine the trajectories of globalization and global finance capitalism, the trends and processes that are alleged to constitute it, and to find out about the challenges and backlash of globalization and global finance capitalism from the perspective of three major sources. In conclusion I shall endeavor to give a critical but objective analysis of globalization and global finance capitalism.

Globalization and global finance capitalism has transformed the globe into a massive economic, social and cultural change over the last two decades. The words globalization and global finance capitalism connotes ideas of laissez-faire on a global scale made up of millions of investors moving money around the world with a click of a mouse. This concept of globalization and global finance capitalism is the heaviest ideological albatross on a global scale the world has experienced. In Promises Not Kept John Isbister sketched an historical oriented analysis of capitalist economic trends both short-term and long-term in the colonies occupied by European imperialism. He injected the long- structural features of the world economy during western European imperialism and capital accumulation. His assertion was that the recent explosion of awareness of transnational, international and global finance and processes is set up in the historical perspective of the last 600 years of the emergence of capitalist inter-societal system in Europe and its Imperialistic expansionism by colonialism, was able to spread capitalism to the whole globe. With similar historical approach, Thomas Friedman in The Lexus and the Olive Tree sketched a similar historical analysis of globalization and global finance capitalism with a parallel distinction.

He divided his historical analysis into two distinctive eras. Friedman described the period from the mid 1800s to the late 1920s as the beginning of the first era of globalization and global finance capitalism. Like Isbister, Friedman asserted, that global finance capitalism was made possible as a result of Western European expansionism of colonies, whose raw materials and source of cheap labor were used to foster industrialization and industrial growth in Europe. According to Friedman’s assertion, the second era of globalization and global finance capitalism came about after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

The first era globalization and global finance capitalism in comparison to the volume of trade and capital flows across borders, relative to populations, was quite similar to the one we are experiencing today.The successive stream of events which started with the outbreak of World War I, followed by the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, and then followed by the Great Depression, were all factors which combined fracturing the world physically and ideologically. The world which emerged after World War II was ideologically divided. This ideologically divided world was frozen in place yet in time by what Friedman referred to as yet another international system, which lasted from 1945 to 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. For Friedman, the period after the fall of the Berlin Wall saw the beginning of the current era of globalization and global finance capitalism. Even though, there were a lot of similarities between the two eras of globalizations, there are a lot of distinguishing features between the two eras.

One major difference between the two eras of globalization and global finance capitalism in the aspect of social change process, is the sheer number of people and countries that are able to partake in the current globalization and global finance capitalism is a major if not the major fundamental difference. Many underdeveloped or developing countries that were left out of the first era are now actively involved in the current globalization and global finance capitalism system. One other major process of social change between the two eras of globalization is its cluster of trends of technological innovations built around falling costs, microchips, satellites, fiber optics and the internet, have brought modern information technologies that has enabled the world to be weaved together even tighter. With these modern technological innovations, there was a significant social change in time.

The new technology changed the ways people interact, there movements and variety. This Developmental social change brought about as a result of the new technological innovations was a change within the ongoing communication system which was made possible by space and satellite communication technology. With this new Developmental Social change in technological innovations brought about a variety in the way we communicate. Not just only governments and corporations that has access to the new technologies, but everyone who wishes use this available communication technologies. On a more general level, this development in communication technologies has resulted into a Revolutionary social change, it has replaced the way the developing countries conduct business with the west.

The developing countries don’t just have to trade their raw materials to the west just to get finished products in return; they can now become big-time producers as well. Another major distinction between the two eras of globalization and global finance capitalism is that unlike the first era, the current era with its new technologies has enabled companies to locate different parts of their production, research and marketing in different countries, but still tie them together through computers and teleconferences as though they were in one place. With the combinations of cheap communications, people can now offer and trade services globally, or sell there unique products over the internet.

Although, the telecommunications technologies have contributed to economic and social change in a global scale that is unprecedented in human history and these innovative technologies is making possible for people to trade in places that could never really be traded before, nonetheless, Isbister observed, the lives of the people in the third world are changing, but not improving. He argued, that with the changes of globalization and global finance capitalism, nonetheless, one can find privileged groups, even entire countries and regions, were economic conditions have progressed and were human and political rights are respected. But these are the exceptions, for the reality as Isbister puts it is that most people are desperately poor, and for most people the dreams of a better-life, a more comfortable life security, and human-rights, is just a thing of illusion if not of the too distant future. Gone were the days, when there were two international systems, opposed to each other ideologically. There is only one remaining international system since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Unlike the other defunct international system {the cold war system}, globalization and global finance capitalism is a mechanism for a great Significant Developmental change involving the inexorable integration of markets, nation-states and technologies to a degree never witnessed, in ways that is enabling individuals, corporations, and nation-states to reach around the world further, faster, deeper and cheaper than before, and in a way that is producing a powerful backlash from those brutalized of left behind by the system. One other fundamental difference between globalization and other international system is with the spread of the free-market capitalism which reaches virtually every country in the new world.

The more a nation- state let market forces rule the more they open there economy to free trade and competition, the more efficient and flourishing there economy will be. Another aspect of Developmental social change as a result of globalization and global finance capitalism is in the integration of people. The defining technologies have fostered and transformed the way people communicate on a global level. This mew transformation has resulted in the rapid acceleration of the movement of people in a defining demographic pattern, the movement from rural areas and agricultural lifestyles to urban areas, and urban lifestyles were people are more intimately linked with global fashions, food, markets, and entertainment trends.

In terms of defining power structure, globalization and global finance capitalism is much more complex than the cold war system. Unlike the cold war system which was built exclusively around nation-states, and both superpowers acted as balance at the center, globalization and global finance capitalism is built around three balances which overlap and affect one another. The second balance of power structure is the balance between the various nation-states and the global markets. These global markets are made up of millions of investors moving money around with the click of a mouse. These Electronic Herds {Friedman’s terminology}, gathers around key global finance centers such as Wall Street, Hong Kong, London and Frankfurt { Supermarkets, another of Friedman’s terminology}. The third balance in the defining power structure of globalization and global finance capitalism is the balance between individuals and nation-states. Globalization has brought down many walls that limited the movement and reach of the people, has simultaneously wired the world into networks, and has given more powers to individuals to influence both markets and the nation- states than at any time in human history.

 

The Lexus and the Olive Tree. Thomas Friedman {Globalization in the Context of Social change Chp1}

Promises Not Kept. John Isbister, {Imperialism: Chapter 4}: Structural and Cultural Change. The penetration of modern technology into the third world countries transformed production and increased productivity in agriculture .This increased productivity in agricultural productivity, benefited the people being colonies and the European colonizers but much more so it benefited the European imperialists the most. The agricultural produce was transported back to the imperialists country of origin before being shipped back into the global markets to generate money to maintain the colonies.

The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization Thomas L. Friedman {The Democratization of Technology Chap. 4 pp45-97}

Promises Not Kept, John Isbister, {Economic Development. Chap 6} Isbister argued that the plight of the third world is not only economic; it is social and political as well. According to Isbister, the promises of technology, of material comfort, of democracy, of human rights, of fairness, of basic respect and decency were not fulfilled in much of the world that came from the shackles of colonialism. He also argued that the international institutions that the rich countries had established, especially the World Bank, began to pay serious attention to the plight of poor countries by the 1960s after Europe had fully recovered from World War II. Isbister also argued that the new attention paid to the third world countries was derived mostly from the cold war competition between the Western and Soviet blocks. The rich countries promised to work together with the poor countries for the economic development of the poor countries was not kept by the rich countries. He argued that for the most part, rich countries are not helpful; they are out-balancing their constructive policies.