Thursday, May 31, 2007


From Books Of the Times

The Rise of Globalization, a Story of Human Desires

Published: May 30, 2007

Globalization has a bad image problem. It is a conceptual tar baby to which every perceived ill in the world attaches: depressed commodity prices, Asian sweat shops, child labor, fast-food imperialism, American cultural hegemony, outsourcing and global warming.

A low point for the world’s most unstoppable trend came on Sept. 10, 2003, when Lee Kyung-hae, a distraught Korean farmer protesting at the World Trade Organization summit in CancĂșn, Mexico, plunged a knife into his own heart after shouting “Death to W.T.O.”

Nayan Chandra

In “Bound Together” Nayan Chanda, the director of publications for the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, offers an alternative description of the term. Rather than a synonym for late capitalism, he argues, globalization is an expression of human desires that date back to the dawn of time, when the first humans left their African homeland and set out in search of a better life.

Globalization, as Mr. Chanda describes it, is not a scheme dreamed up by a few Western finance ministers, corrupt industrialists and the International Monetary Fund. It is an age-old drive as natural as breathing: “Essentially, the basic motivations that propelled humans to connect with others — the urge to profit by trading, the drive to spread religious belief, the desire to exploit new lands and the ambition to dominate others by armed might — all had been assembled by 6000 B.C.E. to start the process we now call globalization.”

“Globalization is not a morality play on a world scale,” he writes. Rather, he insists, “it is a never-ending saga in which the striving for a better life and greater security by millions of individuals manifests itself in the search for profit, for a livelihood, for knowledge, for inner peace, for protection for oneself, one’s dear ones and one’s community.”

There have been losers and winners along the way. Mr. Chanda carefully weighs the costs as well as the gains of globalization, coming down with a certain optimism, as well as fatalism, on globalism’s side.

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