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For the week of Oct. 6, 1999 through Oct. 12, 1999

Worldviews of globalists and localists

Commentary by DICK DORWORTH

The worldview of the globalist tends to define and act on life as if economics are the first prerogative and the ultimate measure of all things. The worldview of the localist tends to define and act on life as if economics are neither first nor last in the priorities of what it is to be a human on planet earth.

Globalism, global markets, multi-national corporations, NAFTA, GATT, the stock market, the Internet and the daily lifestyles of peoples of the developed nations—which regularly include automobiles from Japan, oranges from Florida, wine from France, toys from China, grapes from Chile, oil from Kuwait, wood from Indonesia, beer from Australia, cigars from Cuba, beef from Costa Rica, rugs from Pakistan and bananas from Ecuador and, in places like Sun Valley, skis from Austria—are some of the intended consequences of the globalist worldview.

The localist worldview is completely overshadowed by the globalist perspective in the mainstream media, in the political dialogue and the economic infrastructure of every country. While there are, of course, a great many people who believe economics is the ultimate measure of all things, there is a significant percentage of the population of the world who can be termed ‘localist’ either because they believe economics is not the first or most important consideration or, more prevalently, particularly in third world counties, because they do not experience the material benefits of a global economy.

Indeed, much of the economic prosperity for the few of the multi-national global economy is carried on the backs of third world laborers who are not paid enough to do more than barely survive. That same economic prosperity is ripped from the soils and seas of the world as if it comes from an infinite cornucopia. Alas, the resources of the earth are both finite and fragile.

The localist worldview, while not predominant, is definitely an undercurrent in the mainstream of world culture. It includes the movements to re-cycle, to eat organic foods where and when possible, to view consumerism as the destructive addiction it is instead of a status symbol of a life well lived, to continue the difficult work of on going education and (passing it along) communication critical of the unexamined acceptance of globalism.

Such criticism falls on the localist because the mainstream corporate-owned media tends to accommodate their corporate advertisers and, not surprisingly though sadly, career journalists tend to self-censor themselves; the failure of the educational system to emphasize values other than economic ones and, as a consequence, which sends into the world graduates who are ecologically illiterate; and a political system that the cynic may be excused for suspecting is for sale to the highest bidder, which, in turn, creates political apathy in the populace.

A recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times (Sept. 23, 1999) is a case in point. It says: "Opening U.S. markets to the poor countries should go together with the administration’s effort to force foreign markets to open up to American exporters in the new round of global trade liberalization negotiations….The benefits of opening U.S. markets to the poorest countries extend beyond economics.

"Trade helps to generate legitimate wealth in these countries, stabilize their governments and create new opportunities for U.S. exporters." Owned by the giant corporate Times Mirror Co., the Los Angeles Times represents the globalist worldview. Its editorial fails to address why force is needed to open up foreign markets, if American exports are truly good for those markets. Are those localists so stupid that they must be forced to do what is good for their own sakes? Perhaps it is akin to force feeding geese so their livers can be painfully and abnormally fattened before being cut out and made into pate for discriminating, globalist tastes. The editorial fails to mention exactly what benefits beyond economic profit for American corporations are provided for the poorest countries. Perhaps this is because the editorial staff of The Times could not think of any. The editorial fails to define "legitimate" wealth, while implying there is an "illegitimate" wealth the poorest countries may seek if not forced to open up to foreign markets. Perhaps The Times is saying that legitimate wealth is global, illegitimate wealth is local.

It is not surprising that the editorial failed to mention which poor counties have had their governments stabilized by trade with wealthier nations. World history does not show this as a pattern, unless colonialism is considered a stabilizing force. But The Times editorial with the globalist worldview is accurate in pointing out that forcing foreign markets to open up does create new opportunities for U.S. exporters.

The localist worldview is completely absent in this editorial and, in fact, in most mainstream public discourse about the forces that are shaping the world.

We live in a culture that by and large accepts the premise that progress, growth, technology and the values of consumerism (i.e. "globalism") are in the best interests of mankind. This is a relatively recent worldview, one that is not shared by all and is certainly worthy of more public dialogue and debate than it receives. Mankind evolved in bands of localists on the land for some 30,000 years before history began to be written. For most of that time, economy for those localists was a matter of care, not acquisition, of local needs, not global dominion. We neglect the knowledge and worldview of those ancient and worthy ancestors at great peril to the globe and to all globalists.


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