28 August 2003

Globalization is Breeding Hatred and Violence Around the World

What initially caused me to pick up a copy of World on Fire by Amy Chua was the listed endorsements from neconservative pundit Thomas Sowell and leftist Barbara Ehrenreigh on the back book sleeve. I couldn't fathom any common ground those two shared, thus my curiousity was aroused. The author, neither a proponent or detractor of globalization, lays the case in plain English that rapid democratization and full scale export of laissez faire capitalism is fermenting hatred and violence around the globe.

The author introduces the text with a personal story about her affluent Aunt's violent murder in the Phillipines. Describing how a small minority of Chinese dominate Filipino industry and commerce at every level contrasted against the poverty that embraces a majority of Filipinos, Chua sets the backdrop for her thesis challenging the conventional wisdom that exporting "free market democracy" would transform the world into a "community of modernized, peace-loving nations, and individuals into civic-minded citizens and consumers". Instead, we have witnessed ethnic violence, religous zealotry and hateful resentment. The Balkans, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Rwanda and other recent current eruptions of ethnic violence serve up tragic proof.

Why? How did the globalization champions like Thomas Friedman miss the mark? Well, Chua contends that it's the combination of "market dominant minorities", implementation of unfettered laissez faire capitalism, and rapid democratization enabling impoverished majorities to lash back. The phenomenon of market dominant minorities can occur on a national level, like in the Phillipines, or on a regional level, as in the middle east where 220 million largely poor Arabs co-exist with 5 million more prosperous Jews. Or on a national stage, as America is perceived as controlling the world, to the detriment of natives across the globe. Post 9/11 anti-Americanism was cited - while we view our economic success as the result of entrepreneurial spirit and generations of hard work, others say our wealth and power are the "spoils of plunder, exploitation, and exclusion".
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