A World Bank study has projected that the global financial crisis and resulting recession will plunge some 53 million people across “emerging markets” —like China and India— into absolute poverty, in 2009 alone. In China, tens of millions of people have lost jobs related to the export-dependent manufacturing sector. Such a collapse in private fortunes … Continue reading 53 Million in ‘Emerging Markets’ Plunged into Poverty by Great Recession
There is a narrow ideological segment of the American political spectrum that obsessively pushes “competition” as the sole standard by which to measure the quality of our economic landscape. The problem here is that the word is too often used to promote the idea that to be “competitive” we need to drastically reduce wages and roll back rights most Americans take for granted. This vision of competition is not conservatism; it’s feudalism.
The idea that ordinary people should have less opportunity, less access to prosperity, less personal freedom and fewer labor rights, is not American; it is not in line with the Constitutional order of American democracy. It is the privileging of arbitrary power over the basic rights of real people. This vision of prosperity bound to regressive institutions does not appeal to independents who demand of their public servants both principle and pragmatism.
We must, in this age of integration and complexity, work to recognize those areas where we can learn from cultures that build into our own, that enrich or sustain us, that give humanity, broadly, its metaphysical sense, its creative-adaptable quality. We know France as a place of great culture and profound philosophical insights and a highly developed legal system. But we tend not to think of France as a country whose most famous culture is simply one of many that came to dominate, and very really did stamp out the other cultures competing for survival, in a fractious agrarian society outside the capital, in the 19th century.
We are living in a time of unprecedented global integration, where economies, security interests, legal systems, and languages and systems of learning have been dispersed and interwoven across the globe. There are obvious positive effects to this integration, along with certain overarching and seemingly intractable problems that cause real worry for even the most hopeful or studied observers.
Languages and cultures intermingle, yet seek to remain distinct and continuous, and individuals seek to enhance their own possibilities (requiring freedom of information, and freedom of movement), while seeking to prevent the corrosion of already structured social fabrics. The obvious problem is that some of our most vital human interests come into conflict more readily with those of others, when massive numbers of people mix and intermingle, individuals and cultures competing with one another for the spoils of a new global system.