- Growth to a global or worldwide scale
Big is better!
We’ve heard a lot about globalisation in the news recently, haven’t we? It’s usually a raggy band of protesters at some economic summit “protesting” about corporations, shouting “Down with capitalism,” and eventually fighting with the police or smashing things up! Great. But I don’t think that gets you and I any closer to understanding what globalisation is, and whether it is good for us as a species and the planet in general, does it? It merely alienates these protesters more, and has them condemned as anarchists, without getting the root of the problem.
So what is globalisation? It’s exactly as it says in the dictionary – growth to a global or worldwide scale. So what does this mean to you? Well, If you live in the developed world it probably means wide product choice, availability, and cheap prices. Can you think of anything else?
The one thing that has been global for many centuries, is religion, something you don’t hear many people complaining about! So before you read any further, understand this. Globalisation is not destroying the planet. Globalisation in itself is not a bad thing. If we look at globalisation in a different way, we could say that the earth is our local community and all globalisation is, is a method to connect us all, to bring communities with different skin colours, different languages and different traditions together. What do you think?
The problem is that when we hear about globalisation in the media, and from scruffy protesters, what they are talking about is the high flying world of cola and auto marketing, sprinkled with some shady global finance and oil companies. What we have to remember is that these people are just trying to make a living selling us stuff in the spirit of free enterprise, something that has been encouraged since entrepreneurial men began trading with other countries.
The west has long since traded with asia, especially in textiles and spices – the volume of trade has just got bigger! So we shouldn’t be surprised when people want to sell their products to everybody else in the world. They think it’s a good product and they think people will buy it, and sometimes they’re right, they do. Whether it is ethically right or not, that is not for us to determine.
Remember, we are dealing with individuals with big brains here, you know! These are people who can think for themselves and make their own choices, they are part of the most intelligent species on the planet, who are we to impose our will on them?
If a woman in some back water in china sees an advert for a cola drink, she has the choice to say no! People who are anti-globalisation, think it’s wrong that these big companies exist, and are using up all the planets resources, but there is no such thing as right and wrong, only choice, and if someone chooses to buy a cola drink and pays money for it, who are you and I to say it is wrong?
Personally, I wouldn’t drink the stuff, because I don’t think it is good for the system, it creates a lot of rubbish, and uses up water supplies that could be used for better things, like erm, drinking water! Do you follow what I am trying to say here? I have made the choice not to drink the cola drink, due to self-education and awareness.
I have the opinion that what the product contains, is not going to have a positive effect on my body, coupled to the fact that I know plastics are bad for the environment, the volume of water used up for a product with no nutritional benefits is high, and that the massive production and distribution networks built up around this product of no nutritional value, place a heavy burden on non-renewable resources. That is my choice.
What the protesters fail to realise, is that if everyone had the awareness and education regarding cola, the cola company would – if you pardon the pun – go quickly into liquidation. It would be gone; finito! There would be no more cola. Never forget that. We, the people of the world, keep the large multinationals in business, without us, they crumble – instantly.
So, instead of blaming the cola firm, blame the woman in the rural chinese village, who had no awareness, nor education of the impact of the product on herself, or the environment; and allowed her mind to tempt her into trying one! I am serious. All of us are responsible for the growth of global companies because we buy what they sell.
That’s just business.
So, if you want to smash the windows at a fast food restaurant in your town, go ahead, but it won’t stop people eating there. The same goes for smashing the windows at an oil company, it wont stop people driving their cars. Only they can decide to stop doing that. Informed, individual choice is the key to halting the massive drain on our natural resources by certain global firms. That’s all it will take to halt the expansionist policies they have.
Although you try telling someone in a village they don’t want a car because it’s “bad,” when actually, they do! They’re sick of toiling all day long on foot, and now they want something to make their life easier.
The other problem one has, is that people in developing countries (apprentice consumers) see what we have, and want it! Just like the western traders saw the beautiful silks in asia, and wanted them. It is no different.
Sometimes I feel sorry for these large companies, who are caught up in these globalisation struggles. You see, they started out small, and like most small businesses, when they see an opportunity to expand, take it. They didn’t set out to ruin the world, they probably set out to make it better; after all, which bank is going to support a brand new business whose mission it is to use up all the worlds resources, and addict people to their product?
Lots of people refuse to wear certain brands because they use sweatshop (factory where workers do piecework for poor pay and are prevented from forming unions; common in the clothing industry) labour, but most textiles are made by people working in harsh conditions. It has never been a pleasant industry to work in, even in this country. But the interesting thing is, I never hear people complaining about not accepting coal for their fire or refusing to accept electricity that was generated by coal. That truly is a “sweatshop” job, working in the dark, half a mile below the surface of the earth in cramped, and dangerous conditions.
We have to look at this objectively, if we are to understand the truth of it.
There is no good just picking on companies because they operate in multiple countries. They may pay poor wages, and may have poor conditions for the workers, and what they make may damage the environment irreparably, but then we’d have to look at 50 other local companies doing the same thing, and maybe even worse. Our challenge here is to investigate globalisation, not to condone it or criticise it.
So let’s look at one global phenomenon shall we? The first is the mobile phone, used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, owned by a handful of companies.
The second is the internet, used by tens of millions of people connected by a backbone owned by a handful of companies. Oh, and before I forget, I am writing this book on a laptop made by a multi-national company. So let’s forget all this talk about companies, we will deal with that topic separately, let’s just finish by saying that individuals have the last say in whether companies stay, not only global, but in business at all, and that we all have a responsibility to investigate each product we buy to ensure it is not adversely affecting the well-being of the planet, animals, or humans.
We also have to recognise that some advances have only been made possible thanks in part to globalisation – for example, medicines, which have saved the lives of millions of people worldwide. Before we criticise something we must investigate it fully.
I would like to talk to you about a different kind of globalisation now, one that has nothing to do with industry.
One benefit I noticed, when I worked for a large company in information technology, many years ago, was I got to travel to other offices. For me, it was great to get to meet so many people from so many different countries, all with different traditions and cultures. All too often we get stuck working in our local community, with the same people doing the same thing, and we become insular in our views. We see everyone from abroad as an unwelcome outsider. In short, our world view can be very limited. For some people, the most they see of people from other countries, is when they take their two week package holidays (the british especially).
Some people rarely travel outside of their own countries on holiday, preferring the company of their own country folk. But it is good for the species as a whole to mix with, and try to understand other people from faraway countries, whose languages we don’t speak.
How often do we ever get involved with helping other people in other countries less fortunate than ourselves? Ok, maybe we give a donation or two, but one of the problems of not seeing the world as a whole is division. The separation of people into countries, languages, religions. We need to globalise more, not less, and I am not talking about for profit either.
We need to break down the barriers that exist between us, and learn to understand each other. I don’t mean understanding culture, that is a mere external expression of the person, I mean really getting to know another human being from a different part of the world, sharing experiences, and healing the divisions that have isolated so many of us from each other, thanks to skin colour, language, nationalism and religion amongst others.
So what do you think? Are you able to go global? It’s all very well to stay put, where it’s safe and warm, and you know everyone, and you have a nice job, and a nice quiet life; but if we are to move forward as a planet, we’ve got to start getting to know each other a bit better – this separateness has kept us fighting for too long. We have got so used to only hearing our own language, and being around our own culture, that we have forgotten that this planet is ours, all of ours.
We are not defined by skin colour, language and culture; underneath we are all the same, human. The rulers of the countries may have laid down borders to keep us separate to define their lands (not ours), but the world is ours, not for the taking, but for the exploring. The time has come when identity cards and passports that define us as having one nationality go. For too long, the powerful have wanted to control us. We are the powerful, and we should let it be known that we will travel the globe, and we will not be restricted to having nationality, which is a man-made concept.
Unfortunately, most people only want to travel to another country for a better lifestyle than they had in their previous country. All they want is what they had in their own country, plus a bigger house, a bigger car, and better education for their children. That is economic migration, not globalisation.
Globalisation is the right to roam free in our world without men in suits restricting us. Not so we can go to countries to earn more money, but to connect up with our fellow man across the globe! Idealistic? Mad? Crazy? Maybe! But I just want you to understand how I see the concept of globalisation, and it doesn’t come packaged in a cola can or a burger box. The more we are kept separate from each other, the more the fear of each other will increase.
Come on everyone, we’ve got nothing to fear from each other. We’re not aliens! We’re human. We’re all exactly the same. It’s time to get out there and start meeting each other. We are so insular, how do we ever expect to get on with someone from another planet when we don’t even know our neighbours?
Branch out. Expand. Globalise.
Not your company. You!