You say globalization,
I say exploitation
Keith Halliday’s May 30 column on our “love-hate relationship” with globalization fails to correctly address the very topic at its core, instead cheaply creating a straw man target for his ridicule while ignoring a crucial point “haters” take issue with.
The author assumes the need for an all-or-nothing view at the risk of otherwise betraying some sort of fundamental ethic, then jeers a French journalist (i.e. some guy) for attempting a more all-encompassing variation of the “100-mile diet.”
But while I can agree on the absurdity of a Parisian refusing Dutch cheese or Italian wine because of misguided national pride, I also point out the absurdity of equating this particular newspaperman’s quest with anything other than a sales gimmick.
(Incidentally, the author is also wrong connecting the recent wave of European nationalism with a greater anti-global worldview; whatever their stances on immigration, far-right states have and will always still greet private investment capital, foreign or otherwise, with open arms and limousines.)
Perhaps this is an issue of language: you say globalization, I say exploitation. Mr. Halliday offers us the choice between purchasing Bangladesh-made shirts from conditions he admits are “unacceptable,” or risking those same labourers losing work by refusing to purchase any shirts at all. Why flip that non-existent coin instead of seeking a fix for the actual problem: that these workers need to be exploited in the first place?
It’s easy to imagine this logic from an antebellum plantation owner, lobbying us to continue buying Southern cotton because what would otherwise happen to all those slaves!
It’s not hypocritical driving my Toyota to the local farmers market. Even the staunchest leftists rarely advocate the abolishment of international fair trade and most of us are happy with beneficial goods we can’t or otherwise won’t get locally, not to mention the positives of global thought and cultural exchanges.
But most of us also use words like “cheap” and “disposable” in a negative sense and not with the glee of this Yukonomist, describing the efficiency with which the global market spits out T-shirts and twinkies (and, yes, smart phones and HDTVs) at the mere cost of only literal human lives.
Author Thomas Pynchon quipped, “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” Mr. Halliday stokes up some rhetoric as (junk) food for thought, but I encourage us to see through the fog.