Prof. Charles Derber (Sociology)
In the recently published People Before Profit: The New Globalization in an Age of Terror, Big Money, and Economic Crisis, Derber argues that corporate crises, terrorist attacks on America and other events necessitate a reshaping of the global economy.
"This is the dominant struggle of the 21st century," he said.
"In countries where globalization has failed, there is anger and anti-American sentiment. It is one reason people are persuaded by terrorists' messages. Until now, the arrogance of power has prevented companies from doing the right thing. The US now realizes that it has a big stake in how people are living throughout the world. It is in our country's self-interest as well as our moral duty to put forth a type of globalization consistent with our own democratic ways."
Derber terms the current model of globalization as based on "Popeye economics," where investment capital is supposed to act as the "spinach" making developing countries strong and prosperous. Instead, he said, half the world's population, some 3 billion people, live on less than $2 a day and the great majority lack access to clean water or adequate nutrition.
"Since 1980, the rate of growth in poor countries has declined. The gap between the per capita income of those in rich and poor countries tripled between 1963 and 1999. Globalization is hardwired against poor countries and the poor in rich countries."
But Derber says that globalization is not intrinsically inequitable and harmful, and has "the potential to be an authentic agent of democracy, social justice and economic stability." His recommendations for a new global democracy include: reorganizing the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund and World Bank; strengthening the United Nations; restructuring the governance of business to ensure more corporate accountability; and promoting democracy in countries in ways that go beyond free elections.
"We are at a constitutional moment in the creation of a new global democracy, one that is humane and equitable," Derber said. "We need deep changes at the global, national and local levels, all involving the reconstruction of vibrant popular democracy to counter corporate and financial corruption and power. We need to reconstruct globalization in a way that is more democratic and where human rights are guaranteed."
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