Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

Not Anti-globalization, Just Anti-corporate

I just got out of a Globalism seminar here at Clemson University, led by Frank Polo, a retired professor, called “Is Globalism Working?” The answer, with a resounding thud, was no. After watching several segments of a PBS documentary film called “Commanding Heights” (which you can watch in its entirety online) Frank Polo led a question and answer session that led to discussing the many negatives of globalization and hardly any positives. Globalization was said to be creating greater income disparity between the wealthy and the poor, forcing lower wage jobs on the world populace, generating unpayable debt in developing nations, upending social institutions and safety nets, ravaging the environment and on and on. And when it was asked of the group, “what is the alternative?” no one had an answer.

There is no answer because the premise of the question is false. Globalization is going to happen, period. Technology is an evolutionary force and it is very busy creating interconnectedness in the world. The real question is in what way is globalization is to be achieved? Continued corporatism is not the answer. I was reminded of this awesome illustration of corporate power in the United States: theyrule.net. When Frank Polo asked what we could do about corporations raiding countries for resources I said, “They’re our corporations, let’s make them behave ethicallly.” That comment was met with cynical doubt. But there is no other answer! Truly.

And it is possible to make them behave, as a recent SEC rule might. In Germany, for instance, it is instituted by law that there must be a management board and a supervisory board. Moreover:

Under the Co-Determination Act, our Supervisory Board consists of representatives of the shareholders and representatives of the employees. Based on our total number of employees in Germany, our employees have the right under the Co-Determination Act to elect one-half of the total of 20 Supervisory Board members. The chairman of our Supervisory Board is a representative of the shareholders who has the deciding vote in the event of a tie.

Corporations, particularly American ones, are becoming (if they aren’t already) extra-legal and beyond the control of government. It is in our national interest, and the interest of the world at large to reign in these corporations. I am not a conspiracy theorist. These coporations are systems and they are built to protect their interests and make as much money as they can. We made them that way. We need to unmake them that way or globalization will quickly become a giant sucking sound.

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