Big, quiet change

Posted 07.18.13

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The difficulty with historical change is that the people within it usually are unaware that it's even happening. Once it's passed, historians and the media tell us all about it. Why don't they inform us while we are in the middle of it?

This knowledge would allow us to participate and be part of charge -- not be the powerless bystanders we so often feel ourselves to be. China, for example, has grown beyond all expectations. But how important in general terms are changes like China's?

Not much, I'd argue, since there are always world leaders who rise and fall, often several times. Germany went up, crashed, rebuilt, and is now leading Europe. That could easily change again, and what would it mean to us?

More important to our well-being is the globalized spread of what used to be national economies and the economic motors of nations. As globalization intensifies, the now-multinational corporations not only grow with access to new markets and new resources, but these corporations lose their allegiance to any country, including the nation which gave them birth and which provided (basically free) the resources and markets they needed to get going.

Now they operate on a world scale, and since there are no governments large enough also playing on that scale, these transnational corporations, by their economic decisions, are effectively becoming a network of governments in themselves.

Their economic decisions become social and political -- where a corporate giant decides to build a plant or a rail line, or to close up shop, affects communities and people more than most traditional government decisions (apart from war).

The UN is ineffectual in regulating these giants. The greatest power in the world, the US, seems a cheerleader for this corporate assumption of international power. Most multinationals have demonstrated a clear disinterest in social concerns and values whenever they conflict with corporate goals.

So, here is a huge historical change going on around us right now-a whole new level of, call it ‘governing’ rather than, government, since it has no concrete structure apart from the structures designed for their members' own corporate functions.

Globalization means a decline in democracy -- even in the most democratic of lands, even within countries with powerful democratic institutions and histories. A few of the poorest countries may become wealthier, if they have resources to sell, but not more democratic. Curiously, only the few remaining scraggly socialist countries seem able to withstand this change, although at great cost to their societies and peoples.

Can democratically-elected governments reclaim their national mandates and reach into the nether word of international dealings with their legislation? How? Can the democracies achieve this without becoming the centralized economies of the socialist states? Or can those central-planned states throw off the autocratic structures and attitudes which have insulated them from globalization's damages?

Changes are everywhere, and most are not far-reaching. But globalization clearly affect us all. And we have digitization's effects to consider.


Copyright © 2013 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/07.13