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Travels Through The Dark Heart of Globalization

by Alex Perry

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59691-526-8
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Globalization sounds good in theory but proves disastrous in practice, Time Africa bureau chief Perry demonstrates.

Covering hot spots from South Asia to South Africa, the author reports some alarming developments since 9/11. Globalization—that is, a cost-directed consolidation of capital, labor and markets that Perry characterizes as “global governance without global government”—tends to enrich the few and impoverish the many, accelerating a worldwide sense of injustice and resentment. Despite buoyant growth in such developing nations as China and India, real income of the poorest ten percent is falling, exacerbated by the fact that population growth often outstrips economic growth. The explosion of crime, worsening of pollution, growing AIDS populations, spread of Islamic fundamentalism and war all have roots in the globalization frenzy, the author systematically reveals. In China, for example, the city of Shenzhen seems to be booming, exhibiting “the same energy, the same-get ahead ethos and the same towering respect for a buck” as nearby Hong Kong. But it’s “an unregulated free-for-all…Tijuana, with Chinese characteristics,” writes Perry. Sweatshops operate with impunity, and there’s a brisk trade in illegal wares of every sort, including endangered species served as restaurant food. In India, “offshoring” (moving labor West to East) is not proving to be the country’s panacea; there is no middle class, infrastructure or education to speak of, and while a handful get richer, 900 million Indians still earn $2 per day or less. The author traces the origins of several key wars, such as those in Nigeria and Darfur, in terms of spreading global misery, some of it due to climate change directly linked to Western pollution. Maoists in Nepal, Naxals in India and Tamils in Sri Lanka—not to mention al-Qaeda—all target the instruments of modern-day globalization. Perry, to his great credit, is on the beat, scratching under surfaces and helping to clear away the obfuscation around this important issue.

A critical look at the myths and national delusions surrounding globalization.