Globalization: Good and Bad

Peter Orne calls attention to "Trade and Me," an emerging series of op-eds produced by the young-professionals Open World Initiative of the Lausanne-based Evian Group. (Editor Marc Laperrouza - Because members of the World Association of International Studies have recently been debating the homogenization of culture because of globalization, this pointed comment by Akim Adé Larcher, Holborn College, may be of interest regarding the overwhelming influence of American TV programming and global commodities on a local cultural landscape".  Here is the comment:

The Caribbean region is being bombarded with products from the global economy, it is no surprise that Gucci, Prada, Channel, Harry Winston, and Burberry can be found in any developing island. But at who's expense? The capitalist engine of marketing breeds a vacuum of those who "have" and those who "have not". To fuel this engine of commerce you see the have-not's spending their last dollar to have the latest handbag or sneaker. The real question here is whether in developing countries where employment is low, the cost of such goods is exorbitant, and education is at most a high school level. Are we creating a generation obsessed with labels and brand names? Are we creating a society of individuals who lack the tools needed to break through the cycle of poverty?

A significant part of the populace is hooked on drugs as a means of escape from their menial reality and there exists a mélange of individuals intent on crime to finance their appetite for fame. With drug trade, drug use and crime on the rise in the region, leaders are begging the question, why? Culturally the region is being bombarded at a feverish rate. Television shows like, "Pimp your ride", "Celebrity Cribs", "Big Brother", "Can you be a Porn Star?", "Extreme Makeovers" or even " Wife Swap", are readily available on regular stations. You can only imagine the cultural difference such a show would have in common with regions like the Caribbean or Africa. Are these shows forcing these regions to assimilate culturally? It's hard to put my finger on it, however, most people in the region seemed to be lost in a capitalistic cycle of trying to find their values. Without a base of culture or heritage, the region seems to be clinging to a distant American ideology.

I am a strong supporter of globalization and trade, they fuel the region to economic prosperity, however I wonder whether globalization has had the opposite effect in some islands in the region as it is a major challenge to preserve their culture and identity without integrating with the rest of the world.  Although one cannot exist without the other, more focus needs to be paid to creating a balance. As the region embarks on hosting the 2007 Cricket World Cup, I wonder what new challenges will present its self to this young developing market."

RH: As pointed out earlier, we must distinguish between good globalization (one world in such matters as communications and science) and bad (the imposition of Hollywood values on the ancient cultures of Europe, the invasion of poor areas like the Caribbean by expensive brand names, deepening the gap between the the few rich and the many poor).  Incidentally, "the Lausanne-based Evian group" is odd. Lausanne is in Switzerland. Evian is on the south, French side of Lake Geneva, facing it. Holburn College, the academic home of the editor, is in London.

Ronald Hilton -