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Nation Topics - Globalization

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Multinationals, their intellectual coverings shredded, are love-bombing labor while hunting for new fig leaves.

At Brazil's "counter-Davos," democracy was in; elitism, corporations were out.

His dream is an open northern border. But first, he must end southern poverty.

For more than two years, the antisweatshop movement has been the hottest political thing on campus [see Featherstone, "The New Student Movement," May 15, 2000]. Students have used sit-ins, rallies, hunger strikes and political theater to demand that garments bearing their institution's logo be made under half-decent working conditions.

From the beginning, the major players were students and administrators. While some progressive faculty members--mostly from sociology departments--offered the students early support, economists, who like to think of their discipline as the queen of the social sciences, kept fairly quiet.

That changed this past July. After colleges and universities made a number of visible concessions to the students over the spring, a group of some 250 economists and lawyers released a letter to administrators, basically complaining that they hadn't been consulted. The letter, initially drafted by Jagdish Bhagwati of Columbia University and burnished to perfection by a collective of free-trade zealots calling themselves the Academic Consortium on International Trade (ACIT), reproached administrators for making concessions "without seeking the views of scholars" in relevant disciplines. Judging from their letter, the views of these scholars might not have been terribly enlightening. On page 24 of the magazine, the ACIT missive appears with some comments (see "Special" box, right).

London's new mayor is Thatcher's old nemesis. Is he also a leading indicator?

BEYOND WESTPHALIA

One of the most remarkable--but unremarked, other than superficially--aspects of globalism is its erosional effect on the role of the state as we've known it since the 1648 Peace of Westphalia. Indeed, as Nation editorial board member Richard Falk notes in opening Human Rights Horizons, "The sovereign state is changing course due primarily to the widespread adoption of neoliberal approaches to governmental function.... There exists a broad cumulative trend toward the social disempowerment of the state," and "market forces operate as an impersonal agency for the infliction of human wrongs." Advancing their cause despite the privatizing of government functions--the ultimate in deregulation--may be "the most pressing framing question for human rights activists," Falk asserts in this scholarly meditation.

Falk moves between the specific and the general, whether geographically (from Rwanda to Kosovo to the Gulf War) or institutionally (the UN, NATO, World Bank, IMF), to try to tease out the foundations and implications of a new world moral order. He eschews easy answers--"it remains premature at this point to set forth 'the lessons of Kosovo'"--and is skeptical, yet he presents signs of hope: Global media provide "vivid images...of popular activism and makes the struggles in one setting suggestive...in another," for instance, and in one of its dynamics, globalization "is creating a stronger sense of shared destiny among the diverse peoples of the world."

On the final day of the Seattle demonstrations this past December, Peter Jennings of ABC's World News Tonight introduced the story with a sly aside: "The thousands of demonstrators will go

The United States never held a large number of direct colonies, a fact that has prompted many political leaders to declare it the great exception to colonialism.

The politics of trade will always contrive to decide the most fateful questions in private while leaving public debate to chew over narrow, derivative issues.

When we last visited New York Times foreign affairs pundit Thomas Friedman during last year's Seattle protests, he was attacking critics of the antidemocratic World Trade Organization as a

Blogs

This is the time to break with Obama, and her own past, by siding with labor, environmentalists, human rights activists.

April 17, 2015

Workers’ willingness to take direct action could stem from a recognition that the golden era of Chinese manufacturing is on the wane.

April 9, 2015

If the Trans-Pacific Partnership passes, multinational corporations could sue governments that try to protect the health and safety of their citizens. 

April 2, 2015

The UAE welcomes NYU’s culture cachet—but not academics seeking to expose exploitaitve labor conditions.

March 23, 2015

Without serious reform, migrant fishers in Thailand will remain as disposable as fish bait.

March 2, 2015

Voting should have the power to begin the world over again.

January 28, 2015

The president wants to railroad through Congress a deal that threatens to undermine labor rights, restrict Internet freedom and push jobs overseas. 

January 26, 2015

The Trans-Pacific Partnership might give corporations the ability to sue countries for “expected future profits.”

November 11, 2014

Can the BRICS wrest control of the global economy from the United States and Europe, or will their internal contradictions tear them apart?

September 4, 2014

The president should be proposing new rules for importers who manufacture their products overseas, but don’t hold your breath.

April 23, 2014