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September 26, 2002 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-26

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A

new

road

to

serfdom?

A look at this weekend's Washington, D.C. protests of the IMF and World Bank
A TIMELINE OF PROTEST - ACTIVsTS AND THE WORLD BANK/iMF CLAH
SEATTLE, NOV. 1999 - 50,000 PRAGUE, SEPT. 2000 - QUEBEC, APRIL 2001 - TEN-FOOT- WASHINGTON, SEPT. 2001 - THE WASHI GTON, SEPT. 2002 -
PROTESTERS GATHER AND BLOCK OFF MASS ARRESTS DON'T HIGH CHAINLINK FENCES ARE PROTEST THAT WASN'T. EXPECTED TO BE THIS WEEKEND UP TO 25,000
THE STREETS IN PROTEST, COINCIDING STOP PROTESTERS FROM ERECTED THROUGHOUT THE CITY THE LARGEST U.S. PROTEST SINCE THE ARE EXPECTED TO PROTEST A
WITH A MEETING OF THE WORLD TAKING THE STREETS TO SEPARATE PROTESTERS FROM VIETNAM WAR, THE EVENTS OF SEPT. 11 JOINT MEETING OF THE IMF
TRADE ORGANIZATION. TRTRADE DELEGATES. CAUSED THE PROTEST TO BE CANCELLED. AND WORLD BANK.
WASHINGTON, APRIL 2000 T ABUENOS AIRES, AN. 2001 - THE FIRST GENOA, ITALY, JULY 2001 - DESPITE JOHANNESBURG, SEPT. 2002 - WORLD LEADERS
PRVN HTSATL ANTAWORLD SOCIAL FORUM IS HELD TO A GATHERING OF NEARLY 100,000 TO GATHER FOR THE WORLD SUSTAINABILITY
FLUKE, 30,000 MARCH ON THE CONTRAST THE WORLD ECONOMIC PROTEST A G8 MEETING, THE REAL SUMMIT WHILE THOUSANDS PROTEST CLAIMING
FLE 30,0 MAUARONTE FORUM. 40,000 GATHER UNDER THE NEWS IS THAT A PROTESTER IS SHOT THAT THE SUMMIT HAD BEEN HIJACKED BY
SLOGAN ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE. AND KILLED BY POLICE. CORPORATE INTERESTS.
Required Reading for Globalization
MANMilton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom
F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
Dani Rodrik, Has Globalization Gone
Too Far?
' Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation
Daniel Yergin, Commanding Heights
Thomas Friedman, The Lexus and the
OU1V. I T E[ E Olive Tree
Naomi Klein, No Logo
The globalization debate, a new approach: Anti neo-liberal globalization hits the streets

BY IAN ROBINSON
The protests at this week's joint meeting of the Inter-
national Monetary Fund and World Bank, in Washing-
ton, D.C., are the latest manifestation of a transnational
social movement that has grown rapidly in the 1990s.
Journalists and politicians have recently begun calling it
the "anti-globalization movement," but this name is not
an apt characterization of the movement's goals. The
movement, which includes environmentalists, farmers,
human rights activists, religious organizations, trade
unionists, women's organizations, students and many
others, is itself global in scope. Moreover, most move-
ment participants do not want to eliminate the interna-
tional flows of goods, services, capital and labor that are
usually what is meant by economic globalization.
Rather, they reject the "free market" or "neoliberal"
vision of how best to regulate these flows which has
been ascendant for the last 20 years. It would be more
accurate, then, to call this the anti-neoliberal globaliza-
tion (ANG) movement.
An essential part of the intensifying debate between
proponents of neoliberal globalization and their critics
in the ANG movement thus concerns the merits of rival
claims concerning the best way to regulate national and
global market economies. The different positions in
these debates derive from a number of sources. One is
divergent beliefs about what justice and fairness require.
Is it right, for example, that some of us consume a huge-
ly disproportionate share of resources, much of it spent
on luxury goods, while the most basic human needs of
millions of others are not met? What (if anything) do we

owe to people who are not of our family, our tribe, our
nation? Another source of difference is the different pri-
ority assigned to distributive justice as opposed to other
values. For example, should we protect core worker
rights (e.g., no slavery or forced labor and the right to
form democratic unions) even if this has some negative
impacts on economic growth rates, or is growth the most
important thing? Who is the "we" who should decide
this anyway? Divergent beliefs about how economic
institutions currently work and how alternatives-to them
would work if tried, are another major source of differ-
ence. For example, is it true that higher wages - and
unions, insofar as they contribute to them - increase
unemployment and wage inequality other things being
equal? And are other things usually equal?
All of these questions have been debated for at least
200 years, since the emergence of industrial capitalism
and the construction of national market economies. In
some ways, then, there is little new in the clashing eco-
nomic world views that drive the globalization debate.
Still, at least three aspects of the debate are truly novel.
First, earlier debates focused mainly on the organization
of national political economies, while this one focuses
primarily at least as much on how we should organize
the global market economy. Second, each side of the
globalization debate is comprised of international coali-
tions, whereas (at least in the rich capitalist, countries)
national coalitions were the principal parties to the earli-
er debates. Finally, the globalization debate is informed
by one question that was largely ignored in the past:
How much economic growth is possible without destabi-
lizing the global ecosystem via global warming, rainfor-

est and biodiversity destruction and related environmen-
tal dynamics?
Both camps in the globalization debate are internally
diverse. Still, I would venture the following generaliza-
tions. Most members of the ANG movement put a higher
premium on social justice than the neoliberals, who tend
to privilege the values of efficiency and increased mate-
rial wealth and sometimes (e.g., von Hayek) deny that
social justice is a coherent concept. Most in the ANG
movement doubt that the trade-offs between social jus-
tice and genuine economic development are necessarily
as severe as many neoliberals assert, though they would
say that the neoliberal model is characterized by severe
trade-offs of this sort. Finally, the ANG movement takes
ecological constraints on economic growth more seri-
ously than the neoliberals. The higher priority assigned
to justice concerns, combined with the greater weight
assigned to ecological constraints, results in an ANG
movement that is much more strongly committed to
policies that reduce economic inequality, particularly
between rich to poor nations.
These differences are fundamentally political rather
than technical or scientific. That is, at its heart, this is
not a debate about how to minimize price distortions or
maximize economic growth, but about what kinds of
individual and social goals are most valuable. There is
no right answer to these questions. Even second-order
questions about how best to realize, any given set of
basic social priorities - in principle amenable to social
scientific analysis - are in practice very difficult to
resolve definitively.
Political differences of these fundamental sorts are

resolved by some combination of persuasion, exchange
(material compensation in return for acquiescence) and
coercion. In the 1980s and much of the 1990s, the
neoliberal vision was promoted in all three ways. Main-
stream economics in the U.S. and beyond shifted toward
neoliberal prescriptions providing them with some sci-
entific legitimacy; new trade agreements (NAFTA,
WTO) promised increased and more secure access to the
lucrative U.S. market in return for new international
investor rights and new restrictions on government eco-
nomic regulation; and the threat of capital flight, com-
bined with the consequences of defaulting on foreign
debt payments, provided the gun to the head that
induced many governments to sign "structural adjust-
ment agreements" embodying a neoliberal agenda with
the IMF and the World Bank.
With the growing breadth, depth and mobilization
capacity of the ANG movement - and mounting evi-
dence that neoliberal reforms have increased economic
instability, reduced economic growth rates and exacer-
bated economic inequalities - the tide may now be
turning. If that is indeed happening, we will enter a new
phase in the globalization debate, in which some mem-
bers of the neoliberal coalition seek compromise with
their critics and are criticized by the hard-liners for so
doing. At the same time, differences within the ANG
movement that were submerged while the movement
was focused on its critique of neoliberalism will become
more visible as members debate the minimum condi-
tions of acceptable compromise.

a

Robinson is a lecturer in the Residential College
and the Sociology Department.

I. I

i A

A

Z

A

R

DL

Cordially invites Michigan University Juniors and Seniors
to a presentation and reception
On
Tuesday, September 24th, 2002
Michigan Roam
4:30 PM
Career Analyst Interviews: Wednesday, October 23rd, 2002
Summer Analyst Interviews: Thursday, January 23rd, 2003
Seniors interested in interviewing for Analyst positions
in our Investment Banking Group
should submit resumes and cover letters through MTRAK
by October 2nd

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