Resurrection in El Salvador:
Globalization is a Big Train, and it's Moving out
|Globalization: It's a big train...and it's pulling out. Get on board, or get out of the way.|
People in the Third World are told "Globalization is a big train and it's moving out. Get on or get run over." Even proponents don't claim anything compassionate about this power. It's presented simply as an unstoppable force.
America is pushing globalization with the zeal of an evangelist. Our ideological export after the defeat of communism is free trade. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO) are its crusaders. Market fundamentalism is the creed of the new muscular "church of laissez-faire." The new virtues are deregulation, privatization, openness to trade, unrestricted movement of capital, and lower taxes. Attacking the theory is attacking America.
America's passion for freedom is more accurately a passion for free trade. It's driven not by altruism, but by a desire to open new markets to US firms and products. If you have resources, laborers, or potential customers, you must play.
Talking to economists in El Salvador, Nicaragua or the USA you notice everybody's reading out of the same play book. "Pro-growth" legal and regulatory policies weaken laws designed to protect the environmental and labor. National Security is capital.
If a country has a sick economy, the IMF and World Bank make a house call. The medicine is always the same: "structural adjustment." Structural adjustment protects investors from governments who may someday want to defend their people from the will of corporations. With new laws in place, corporations trump nations. The result is seen in countries where people power has been lobotomized out of their representative governments. One economist remarked, "The World Bank is the government of Bolivia." Wolfowitz wins without a war. It's the economics of empire.
Some believe this is just tough love as the rich world tries to pull up the poor world. The score card tells a different story. In the last 40 years, the average annual income in the world's 20 poorest countries has barely changed. In 1960 it was about $200. Today it's about $270. In that same period, the income in the richest 20 nations has nearly tripled, from about $12,000 to about $32,000.
The bottom half of humanity lives on roughly 5% of the planet's resources. The top 20% lives on over 80%. The greatest concentration of wealth in the history of the human race is happening at the same time our world is becoming a global village. A planet with more and more window shoppers is unstable, fragile, and — sooner or later — promises lots of broken glass.
Rather than call the poor end of our world the Third World and the Developing World, I think it's more accurate to use the terms "Two-thirds World" and "Underdeveloped Nations." Rather then developing, these nations are systematically kept underdeveloped. It's part of the big plan emanating from the USA. For instance: trade levies increase with processing. It's okay for a poor country to export peanuts but the prohibitively higher tariff for processed peanuts makes producing peanut butter almost impossible outside of the already developed world.
America's leadership in the drive for globalization is powered (and made possible politically) by politicized, militaristic, generally-fundamentalist Christians. Read to a neo-liberal Christian: "I was hungry and you fed me. Imprisoned and you visited me, naked and you clothed me. What you have done to the least of people, you have done to me." Most will look at you with disdain, turn their back, and continue to pound plow shares into swords.
In 2003 Dick and Lynn Cheney sent this message printed on their Christmas card "And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?" And their Christian friends — believing the USA can (and should by any means possible) bring moral salvation and economic leadership to the world — said, "Amen."