Thursday, April 02, 2009

Globalisation and its Malcontents

The protests around the ongoing G20 summit have turned violent.

The protesters appear to be from many disparate groups with many disparate (desperate?) aims. Some just seem intent on causing mayhem, destruction, and worse.

What are we to make of it all?

It's unfortunate, but characteristic, that such protests always produce a lot of heat but very little light.

Even more unfortunate is the fact that some of these protest groups, these anti-something groups, never let the facts get in the way of their good stories. No matter how off-base those stories might be.

Take the anti-capitalist strain.

Despite the fact that free market principles have been responsible for the creation of more wealth, and the concomitant alleviation of more poverty, than any other economic system, the anti-capitalists continue to insist that it must be "abolished" or "reformed". The fact that all the substitutes and modifications on offer have been tried before and failed every time appears to be of little concern to the anti-capitalists. The fact that China, communist China itself, has shifted towards free market principles and prospered as a result is little more than an inconvenient fact that is conveniently ignored.

And it's almost always a bad sign when a group is defined more by what it's against than by what it's for.

What are all these anti-something groups actually for?

The true answer is profoundly disturbing.


ambersun said...

Hi again

I had a boyfriend ten years ago (I think) who used to go to all those protests. He's since become disallusioned.

I tried to argue that there is no way we can have utopia on earth when we only have imperfect people to run it.

All systems, therefore, are flawed. Democratic capitalism may be the best system (I don't know as it's all I've known) but I think the pursuit of government as a kind of saviour is just weird.

We have religions for that sort of thing - and may they always be separate.

Let me know what you think.


Mjumo Mzyece said...

Disillusioned may be just the right word.

The illusion is that somehow the imposition of a solution on everybody, whether from the centre or the periphery it matters not, will somehow solve all the problems of humanity. This is not a new illusion, but it is still a dangerous and misguided one.

It is based on a fundamental misapprehension of the purpose of government. Government exists to allow men (which encompasses all humanity, women included) to live and interact with each other in peace and harmony. Government is *not* an end in itself. It is merely a means to the end of allowing peaceful and harmonious coexistence between human beings. This implies that government, proper and legitimate government, must be limited in its scope and its powers.

Thinking about the precise aims of the anti-globalisation movement is liable to give someone a severe headache (or worse) since the aims are totally inconsistent at best and totally incoherent at worst. For example, the anarchists want to do away with governments altogether, whereas the environmentalists want governments to adopt and strictly enforce so-called green policies.

As to systems of political economy, none of the alternatives on offer comes even close to reconciling individual freedom and the common interest in the way that democratic capitalism does.