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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why Globalization is Opposed

Deepak Lal of UCLA gives his theory of why globalization is opposed by the cultural nationalists in the third world and the New Dirigistes in the West:

Why globalising capitalism is hated, by Deepak Lal, Commentary, Financial Times (free): Globalising capitalism is opposed by two major groups - the cultural nationalists in the third world, who fear the westernisation it may bring and the New Dirigistes, proponents of the “third way’” in the West who bear the ancient hatred of capitalism on their sleeves. Why this continuing hatred of, and guilt about, a system which promises unprecedented global prosperity? ...

Whilst ... maverick capitalists existed in all the ancient agrarian Eurasian civilisations, it was only in one that they came to be given their head, ... eventually becoming socially and politically acceptable. This marked the emergence of capitalism as an economic institution which led to the great divergence between the West and the Rest.

My contention ... is that the Great Divergence resulted from a legal revolution in the 11th century instigated by Pope Gregory VII who, in 1075, put the Church above the State and, through the resulting Church-State, created the whole legal and administrative infrastructure required by a full-fledged market economy. ... The 11th century Papal revolution, by creating the church-state, provided a legal bulwark and administrative system whose reach, unlike most of the political states, covered the whole of Western Christendom. It allowed the novelty seeking and risk-taking capitalists to pursue securely their enterprise over a larger space and with myriads of strangers, thus initiating the economic system which has changed the world.

This Papal revolution which changed the West’s ‘material’ beliefs was preceded and precipitated by an earlier 6th century revolution of Pope Gregory the Great which changed the West’s ‘cosmological’ beliefs ( on ‘how one should live’) from the communalism common throughout Eurasia to individualism, particularly in the domestic domain concerning sex and marriage. By promoting marriages based on the universal but ephemeral emotion of love, it went against the common Eurasian pattern of arranged marriages, which eschewed a fickle emotion’s threat to the families needed for settled agriculture. To counter the threat unleashed by individualism..., the Christian Church created a fierce guilt culture which provided its moral moorings, until the Darwinian and Freudian revolutions destroyed its bases of God and Guilt.

These twin Papal revolutions have cast a long shadow. Though temporally conjoined, the change in ‘cosmological’ beliefs promoting individualism is not necessary for the change in ‘material’ beliefs promoting capitalism. It is the latter that globalisation is spreading through the world...

The capitalism thereby promoted has been under attack since the romantic revolt against the enlightenment and its ‘disenchantment of the world’. The arguments have been mainly moral and aesthetic. For both the cultural nationalists and the New Dirigistes, globalisation is seen as a Faustian pact where prosperity is bought at the cost of losing one’s soul. However, unlike their 19th century predecessors, the New Dirigistes can no longer appeal to a socialist utopia to provide a middle way between the creative destruction of capitalism and the settled unchanging way of life in attune with Nature of their agrarian past. They now seek to humanise capitalism through regulation and social and moral paternalism. The demoralisation of societies perceived as accompanying the rise of globalising capitalism has been wrongly attributed to the instrument of their prosperity, capitalism, rather than the growing moral vacuum in the West, which they themselves have promoted, and which has destroyed the West’s traditional and conventional moral moorings.

The moral cement of non-monotheistic Eurasian societies was provided by conventions and traditions transmitted to the young through the moral emotions of shame and guilt. ... The West’s current ‘cosmological’ beliefs ... are incoherent - a mish mash of Enlightenment ideals of individual self-realisation, standards of competitive success in an acquisitive society, and a residual of Christian belief in transcendental salvation.

It is the global transfer of this demoralisation of the West, particularly in the domestic domain, that the cultural nationalists most fear. Eurasia’s wounded civilisations had three responses to the Western imperial impact. The first, like the Japanese, was to accept the material beliefs of the West, whilst keeping their cosmological beliefs. The second, embodied by Gandhi and the current Islamists, was to eschew modernisation as it would lead to westernisation. The third, and most common, was to find a middle way between tradition and modernity though some form of socialism - the extreme Enlightenment version followed by Stalinist Russia and Maoist China, or the gentler Fabian version...

The failure of this path has at last led the two largest Eurasian civilisations, India and China, to follow the Japanese path by recognising that globalising capitalism offers them the means for prosperity without losing their souls. So, it is in the lands where Islamists hold sway and among the New Dirigistes of the West, that hatred of globalising capitalism still remains for essentially atavistic reasons.

Comments so far are not favorable:

tom s.: He lost me at the first two sentences. ...Why would I give any time to someone who starts off saying that the issue is my fear and hate? ... If he was interested in addressing me he would not start off in such an insulting manner; therefore he is not addressing me; therefore I will not read the rest of what he has to say.

nanni: I beg to differ. Among my people, globalisation has negative connotations because it takes away power from the individuals. As a consequences, the communality of daily life has become more and more frustrating and aggressive. ...

dissent: I've noticed that rightwing ideologues often argue against their ideological opponents by ... imagin[ing] the feeling their opponents must, in their view, have, then deride them for it. Often no one has that feeling, it is a strawman argument...

save_the_rustbelt: This guy is really impressed with himself, and gee whiz, he can use a lot of big words. In non-academic terms, he is a pompous windbag.

dale: this is a level of analysis surpassed over 150 years ago. are there still folks who do not see that modernity, in both its cultural form and its economic form is highly ambivalent?

String Quintet in C major: What a load of pretentious, loaded bollocks. The whole thing is ripe for fisking, but one can´t be bothered. ...

Ninjaplease: "Why this continuing hatred of, and guilt about, a system which promises unprecedented global prosperity? ..." Hahahahahhaha! Ah yes, please parade out some more promises. Do you remember the promises, promises... I Doooooo ...

evagrius: I'm curious about the Papal references. While I think the changes resulting from Gregory VII actions resulted in a more "unified" Western Europe by establishing better distinctions between Church and State, I'm not so sure Gregory the Great, who was a monk, had any role in establishing what is now known as "romantic love". From what I remember, "romantic love" came about much later, around the 11-1200's with the troubadors, influenced by Moslem love poetry and music originating from the Indian/Persian area. As for Gregory VII, he might have strenghtened the Church in its struggle against the numerous number of nobility who wanted more power and domination but I don't think that he was the main reason for the establishment of a more universal "market". I would rather put that to the growing influence of cities and the establishment of universities which created a cosmopolitan class of wandering scholars, poets, etc; who, speaking a universal tongue, Latin, were able to travel and communicate over great distances. In any case, neither action by the Popes in question, destroyed the "cosmological beliefs" of the societies they lived in. Those beliefs were destroyed quite a while later. Given all that, the gist of his argument is rather weak. He does not show why material prosperity, ( which as recent events are showing comes at the great price of environmental destruction, pollution, etc; as well as social disruption and loss of human cultures and societies), is any great boon to those who are still, more or less, living in what could be called traditional societies. I'm curious as to his own relation with the culture he seems to be from. Given his name, I take it that he is from India. I wonder what his relations are with the cultures, traditions and beliefs of India.

yan: Another attempt to revive European exceptionalism as explanation for the Industrial Revolution, this time in the form of some rather tangential papal reforms and their impacts on the mentalities in the West. I'm more inclined to give credence to Weber's Protestant ethic than to this fanciful fabrication, although neither is really a historically rigorous explanation.

It is particularly interesting that "Great Divergence" is capitalized in an attempt to engage with the ongoing academic dialogue on the subject. While I don't agree with the full explanations that Pomeranz advances for the Great Divergence, he is extremely convincing on two fronts. First, every major theory of European exceptionalism that has been proposed in the course of the last 150 years is refuted by a presentation of very detailed comparative evidence. Second, he demonstrates that access to coal was simply a matter of good fortune and coal was a sine qua non for industrialization.

(For those not up to date on the latest in economic history the book I am referring to and the one the above author is obliquely criticizing is Kenneth Pomeranz's The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy.)

    Posted by on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 04:55 PM in Economics, International Trade | Permalink  TrackBack (1)  Comments (35)

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    [Source: Economist's View] quoted: Deepak Lal of UCLA gives his theory of why globalization is opposed by the cultural nationalists in the third world and the New Dirigistes in the West: Why globalising capitalism is hated, by Deepak Lal, Commentary, F... [Read More]

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