THE CONFLICTS OF GLOBALIZATION • Charles O. Lerche III

Written 25 years ago (source article has been taken offline)

We live in a world that is simultaneously shrinking and expanding, growing closer and farther apart….National borders are increasingly irrelevant. And yet globalism is by no means triumphant. Tribalisms of all kinds flourish. Irredentism abounds (Attali, 1991: 117).

Because of the great increase in the traffic in culture, the large-scale transfer of meaning systems and symbolic forms, the world is increasingly becoming one not only in political and economic terms…,but in terms of its cultural construction as well; a global ecumene of persistent cultural interaction and exchange. This, however, is no egalitarian global village (Hannerz, 1991: 107) (emphasis added).

The pace of global change is extremely rapid, and even those trained to track and analyze it have difficulty keeping up with new developments. However, trends are regularly observed and named, and these new terms become “buzz words” in the lexicons of governments, academia and the media. Such a term is globalization. Though it is, admittedly, rather vague, and the phenomena it is employed to describe extremely diverse, it does express a prevailing sentiment at century’s end that our lives are increasingly influenced by forces which have transcended borders, and which, precisely because of their scope and power, are changing, irreversibly, life on this planet. All levels of society are being reshaped by this process: the individual may find her/his livelihood threatened or identity thrown into question; localities and whole regions are forced to recreate themselves or die in the face of new economic forces; and nation-states themselves experience steadily decreasing freedom of action and ever closer ties to each other.

At the moment there is a serious contradiction between the fact that globalization is in full swing, and the fact that existing processes of global governance lack sufficient power, authority and scope to regulate and direct this process toward beneficial ends. As a result globalization is often disruptive and inequitable in its effects. It has also posed new challenges for existing public institutions while at the same time weakening their autonomy and support; and, paradoxically, provided the means for those it excludes culturally or economically to organize against its subordinating and homogenizing force. Many analysts have pointed to the turbulent nature of this planetary process and to the increasing frequency and variety of reactions to it. Drawing on this literature, this paper first attempts to clarify various aspects of globalization and then considers its potential for generating social conflict and unrest. Subsequently, human needs theory, as developed and applied by John Burton, is used to explore some of the roots of these conflicts and, finally, globalism is put forth as a positive, and potentially corrective, dimension of globalization.

Globalization: A Closer Look

Definitions
There are a variety of definitions and descriptions of globalization, which, though overlapping in many respects, do emphasize different dimensions of the process. Robertson’s is one of the first and the most general:

Globalization as a concept refers both to the compression of the world and intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole…both concrete global interdependence and consciousness of the global whole in the twentieth century (Robertson, 1992: 8).

Anthony Giddens’s adds an important dimension to the picture by emphasizing the interactive, or dialectical dimensions of the process:

Globalization can thus be defined as the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa. This is a dialectical process because such local happenings may move in an obverse direction from the very distanced relations that shape them. Local transformation is as much a part of globalisation as the lateral extension of social connections across time and space (Giddens, 1990: 64).

However, it is in regard to business and economics that the term “globalization” is most frequently invoked. What is referred to here is:

“…a qualitative shift toward a global economic system that is no longer based on autonomous national economies but on a consolidated global marketplace for production, distribution, and consumption;” (Holm and Sørensen, 1995: 5)

in which

“…distinct national economies are subsumed and rearticulated into the system by essentially international processes and transactions” (Hirst and Thompson, 1992).

The primary vehicles for this process have been the increasing transnationalization of production, and the resulting rise in influence of multinational enterprises, and even more importantly, the explosion in the volume and scope of transactions on international financial markets. In this regard, consider the following commentary on contemporary change in the banking industry:

Banking is rapidly becoming indifferent to the constraints of time, place and currency…an English buyer can get a Japanese mortgage, an American can tap his New York bank account through a cash machine in Hong Kong and a Japanese investor can buy shares in a London-based Scandinavian bank whose stock is denominated in sterling, dollars, Deutsche Marks, and Swiss francs (Waters, 1995: 89).

And one of its most often noted effects is the homogenization of consumer markets around the world, at least in certain areas–the so-called “McDonaldization” of global consumption.

Critiques
Though often touted as representing the height of economic rationality, globalization has also been portrayed as having a very dark side. Critics repeatedly point out that the contemporary form of globalization , driven by economic power, clearly promotes the hegemony of Western culture and corporations; puts jobs and communities at risk in the rich countries and exploits cheap labor in the poorer countries; increases threats to the environment; and undermines the foundations of democracy and social stability by subjecting national political institutions to forces of economic change beyond their control. Furthermore, as a recent volume of essays (Holm and Sørensen, 1995) has highlighted, globalization is uneven both in its processes and in its effects. It produces concentrations and deprivations which, in the aggregate, constitute an increasingly well-defined global power structure.
Claude Ake, a leading African critical thinker, has argued in this regard that:

Economic forces are constituting the world into one economy and, to a lesser extent, one political society. Nations participate in global governance according to their economic power, which is coextensive with their rights. The global order is ruled by an informal cabinet of the world’s economically most powerful countries; its law is the logic of the market, and status in this new order is a function of economic performance (Ake, 1995: 26).

Critics also argue that there is a neo-liberal ideology of globalization which serves to “normalize” the process – to make it seem natural, inevitable and beneficial. Thus, while it is clearly in the particular interest of big multinational and global corporations to be free to move money, factories and goods around the planet seeking access to the cheapest factors of production, the most congenial regulatory environments and the most lucrative markets, the ideology of globalization promotes the belief that the interests of humanity and even of the earth itself will also be best served if world markets are:

“.left unfettered by ethical, moral, social, or environmental considerations.” (Ritchie, 1996)

In an analysis of the North American Trade Association as a case study of both the ideology and practice of globalization, economist Robert MacEwan presents data from the United States and Mexico to substantiate what he calls the “social failures” which are produced by the trade pact: greater income inequality, environmental damage and the decline of democratic control:

Greater income inequality is not the only social failure generated by the success of globalization generally and by NAFTA particularly. Environmental destruction is surely exacerbated with the success of globalization. The greater mobility of capital makes it more and more difficult for citizens of any one political unit to organize and use their government to impose regulations on polluting firms (MacEwan, 1994: 2).

Finally, he argues that globalization has a negative impact on the quality of politics and public life by placing restrictions on governments’ powers to intervene in their own economies, and, thereby:

“..limiting people’s power to exercise political control over their economic lives” (MacEwan, 1994: 2).

Though one should not necessarily take all this criticism at face value, it does reflect what can go wrong as corporations and capital have acquired the means to move and operate on a much broader scale. Furthermore, it conveys a sense of alarm that the nation-state as an institutional structure cannot cope effectively with these new developments, and, in fact, finds its own priorities and policies heavily influenced, if not dictated, by them. The question then arises, who will articulate and defend the public interest against the global reach of private financial and commercial interests, when the latter go too far? For instance, all but the most laissez-faire of economic thinking argue that governments must intervene to protect the public when markets fail, i.e. when they are no longer free and competitive. However, efforts to implement such a strategy at the global level, through various multilateral and international institutions, have achieved little. Consequently, world markets have become increasingly concentrated in major sectors.

Furthermore, while there is a case to be made for reducing expensive and inefficient government regulatory structures, the lack of adequate regulatory standards applying across borders does provide an incentive for multinational firms to choose less-regulated operating environments, and involves countries seeking foreign investment in a:

“race for the bottom” competition to see who can provide the most “free” and least regulated business environment (The Economist, July 1995: 114).

In the negative characterization of globalization, and this judgment becomes even more plausible when globalization is evaluated as an “engine” of social conflict.

Globalization and Conflict

Though the previous discussion is suggestive, the link between globalization and conflict requires further explication. Much of the literature distinguishes between conflicts which focus on issues of culture and identity, and others which appear to be primarily economic, and the discussion that follows adopts this approach while acknowledging that in practice the two elements are interrelated. Conflicts of world views and interests should not, however, be seen as inherently threatening or negative. Indeed many of the tensions of social change are largely unavoidable, and some are undoubtedly creative in their effects. At the same time, however, the analysis which follows suggests that if the human needs and rights issues involved are not adequately addressed, the incidence and intensity of social conflict associated with globalization are likely to increase steadily in the years ahead.

We Have Entered the Eye of Davos’ Storm — Gold Goats ‘n Guns

Congress recessed for the summer passing neither the infrastructure nor spending bills that were the focus of all of Washington’s attention for weeks thanks to Krysten Sinema from Arizona. She personally torpedoed the Biden Administration’s signature piece of legislation that took months to wrangle to that point and then gave the whole thing a big […]

We Have Entered the Eye of Davos’ Storm — Gold Goats ‘n Guns

The Lobby USA – #ElectronicIntifada #Aljazeera #Israel #Zionism

The content in the blog post is from Electronic Intifada:

https://electronicintifada.net/content/watch-film-israel-lobby-didnt-want-you-see/25876

The #ElectronicIntifada has obtained a complete copy of The Lobby – USA, a four-part undercover investigation by Al Jazeera into Israel’s covert influence campaign in the United States.

Episode 1 – Covert War

Episode 2 – Managing Elites

Episode 3 – Witch Hunt

Episode 4 – Marketing Occupation

We are releasing the leaked film simultaneously with France’s Orient XXI and Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar, which have respectively subtitled the episodes in French and Arabic. Thefilm was made by Al Jazeera during 2016 and was completed in October 2017.

But it was censored after Qatar, the gas-rich Gulf emirate that funds Al Jazeera, came under intense Israel lobby pressure not to air the film.

Although Al Jazeera’s director-general claimed last month that there were outstanding legal issues with the film, his assertions have been flatly contradicted by his own journalists.

In March, The Electronic Intifada was the first to reporton any of the film’s specific content. We followed this in August by publishing the first extract of the film, and shortly after Max Blumenthal at the Grayzone Projectreleased others.

Since then, The Electronic Intifada has released three other extracts, and several other journalists have watched the entire film and written about it – including Alain Gresh and Antony Loewenstein.

Now The Electronic Intifada can reveal for the first time that it has obtained all four parts of the film.

To get unprecedented access to the Israel lobby’s inner workings, undercover reporter “Tony” posed as a pro-Israel volunteer in Washington.

The resulting film exposes the efforts of Israel and its lobbyists to spy on, smear and intimidate US citizens who support Palestinian human rights, especially BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

It shows that Israel’s semi-covert black-ops government agency, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, is operating this effort in collusion with an extensive network of US-based organizations.

These include the Israel on Campus CoalitionThe Israel Project and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Censored by Qatar

The film was suppressed after the government of #Qatar came under intense pressure not to release it – ironically from the very same lobby whose influence and antics the film exposes.

Clayton Swisher, Al Jazeera’s head of investigations, revealed in an article for The Forward in March that Al Jazeera had sent more than 70 letters to individuals and organizations who appear in or are discussed in the film, providing them with an opportunity to respond.

Only three did so. Instead, pro-Israel groups have endeavored to suppress the film that exposes the lobby’s activities.

In April, Al Jazeera’s management was forced to deny a claim by the hard-right Zionist Organization of America that the film had been canceled altogether.

In June, The Electronic Intifada learned that a high level source in Doha had said the film’s indefinite delay was due to “national security” concerns of the Qatari government.

Covert action


As revealed in a clip published by The Electronic Intifada earlier this week, the film shows Julia Reifkind – then an Israeli embassy employee – describing her typical work day as “mainly gathering intel, reporting back to Israel … to report back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.”

She discusses the Israeli government “giving our support” to front groups “in that behind-the-scenes way.”

Reifkind also admits to using fake Facebook profiles to infiltrate the circles of Palestine solidarity activists on campus.

The film also reveals that US-based groups coordinate their efforts directly with the Israeli government, particularly its Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

Run by a former military intelligence officer, the ministry is in charge of Israel’s global campaign of covert sabotage targeting the BDS movement.

The film shows footage of the very same ex-military intelligence officer, Sima Vaknin-Gil, claiming to have mapped Palestinian rights activism “globally. Not just the United States, not just campuses, but campuses and intersectionality and labor unions and churches.”

She promises to use this data for “offense activity” against Palestine activists.

Jacob Baime, executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition, claims in the undercover footage that his organization uses “corporate level, enterprise-grade social media intelligence software” to gather lists of Palestine-related student events on campus, “generally within about 30 seconds or less” of them being posted online.

Baime also admits on hidden camera that his group “coordinates” with the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

Baime states that his researchers “issue early warning alerts to our partners” – including Israeli ministries.

Baime’s colleague Ian Hersh admits in the film to adding Israel’s “Ministry of Strategic Affairs to our operations and intelligence brief.”

 

“Psychological warfare”

Baime describes how his group has used anonymous websites to target activists.

“With the anti-Israel people, what’s most effective, what we’ve found at least in the last year, is you do the opposition research, put up some anonymous website, and then put up targeted Facebook ads,” Baime explains in part three of the film.

“Canary Mission is a good example,” he states. “It’s psychological warfare.”

The film names, for the first time, convicted tax evaderAdam Milstein as the multimillionaire funder and mastermind of Canary Mission – an anonymous smear site targeting student activists.

The Electronic Intifada revealed this in a clip in August.

Eric Gallagher, then fundraising director for The Israel Project, is seen in the undercover footage admitting that “Adam Milstein, he’s the guy who funds” Canary Mission.

Milstein also funds The Israel Project, Gallagher states.

Gallagher says that when he was working for AIPAC, Washington’s most powerful Israel lobby group, “I was literally emailing back and forth with [Adam Milstein] while he was in jail.”

Despite not replying to Al Jazeera’s request for comment, Milstein denied that he and his family foundation “are funders of Canary Mission” on the same day The Electronic Intifada published the clip.

Since then, Josh Nathan-Kazis of The Forward has identified several other groups in the US who fund Canary Mission.

 

Suppressed film

In March, The Electronic Intifada published the first details of what is in the film.

We reported that it showed Sima Vaknin-Gil claiming to have leading neoconservative think tank the Foundation for Defense of Democracies working for her ministry.

The undercover footage shows Vaknin-Gil claiming that “We have FDD. We have others working on” projects including “data gathering, information analysis, working on activist organizations, money trail. This is something that only a country, with its resources, can do the best.”

As noted in part one of the documentary, the existence of the film and the identity of the undercover reporter became known after footage he had shot for it was used in Al Jazeera’s The Lobby – about Israel’s covert influence campaign in the UK – aired in early 2017.

Since then, Israel lobbyists have heavily pressured Qatar to prevent the US film from airing.

 

“Foreign agent”

Clayton Swisher, Al Jazeera’s head of investigations, first confirmed in October 2017 that the network had run an undercover reporter in the US Israel lobby at the same time as in the UK.

Swisher promised the film would be released “very soon,” but it never came out.Multiple Israel lobby sources told Israel’s Haaretznewspaper in February that they had received assurances from Qatari leaders late last year that the documentary would not be aired.Qatar denied this, but the paper stood by its story.

Swisher’s op-ed in The Forward was his first public comment on the matter since he had announced the documentary.

In it, he refutes Israel lobby allegations about the film and expresses frustration that Al Jazeera had not aired it, apparently due to outside pressure.

Several pro-Israel lawmakers in Washington have piled on more pressure by pushing the Department of Justice to force Al Jazeera to register as a “foreign agent” under a counterespionage law dating from the 1930s.

 

The Israel lobby goes to Doha

While the film was delayed, a wave of prominent pro-Israel figures visited Qatar at the invitation of its ruler, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

They have included some of the most right-wing and extreme figures among Israel’s defenders in the US, such as Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and Morton Klein, the head of the Zionist Organization of America.

Swisher wrote in The Forward that he ran into Dershowitz at a Doha restaurant during one of these visits, and invited the professor to a private viewing of the film.

“I have no problem with any of the secret filming,” Swisher says Dershowitz told him afterwards. “And I can even see this being broadcast on PBS” – the USpublic broadcaster.

Yet it appears that Israel lobby efforts to quash the film were successful – until now.