Actually, I am going to deliver a one-two punch to the left and a kick to the right.
I have to. There are too many kicks stored up. I have to spread em out.
First, proof that conscience does not always translate into common sense. It is all well and good to sympathize with Third World poor folks and with a planet being raped by uncaring commerce. (My eco-credentials are so far beyond reproach, it's laughable.)
But it's quite another to explore what steps would actually help poor people around the world and the environment. And here, the left is completely wretched. Must we be stuck between socialist fanatics and pro-aristocrat market fanatics?
Let's take apart one of these sides. (Continued from part I)
The 'anti-globalization movement' is currently a transfixing focus for what used to be called the Activist Left. Young people follow world leaders around, creating urban theater neat World Bank & other meetings, decrying abuse of the environment, of labor, of children, etc.
Don't get me wrong. These concerns are genuine and laudable and based on real excesses that, if left unchecked, would wreak profound injustice and pain upon generations. By all means, shine light on scandals in Addidas factories! Force revelation of the ownership paths of supertankers! Document deforestation and track those conflict diamonds.
But the irony and - yes - hypocrisy that's generated by dogmatism can be profound. These activists seem incapable of noticing one paramount fact. That both labor and environmental abuse were addressed in their home (western) countries by the very last method they think people in the Third World capable of using -- politics and law.
They want to protect these people and lands by cutting off links between those lands and major international corporations... presumably so those "rapacious" corporations will stop exploiting both workers and the environment. But this approach has no track record of accomplishing a single thing, either for the poor or for the Earth.
How did labor, children, and the environment all benefit in the activists' own homelands? In fact, these things benefied from INCREASES in interconnectivity, along with development of political and legal structure.
In other words, their reflex revulsion toward 'globalization' is ill-considered. The decreases in interconnectivity and structure that they demand can only succor local bullies and oligarchies and kleptocracies that currently are far worse enemies of the environment, labor and children! At least the global conglomerates, when they move into a country, try to foster actual civil law, if only for their own protection and for predictability.
And, as shown in the recent works of Hernando de Soto, it is LAW, even imperfect, but predictable, systematic, that (so long as it is not corrupt) ultimately favors the poor even more than the rich, by allowing them to keep and leverage their small but growing earnings. Recent studies of micro-lending have shown that Mom & Pop mini-capitalists are the most powerful force for economic development, far more potent than any multinational, per capita. Give them jobs and a little capital... and above all civil law... and things really happen.
(I emphasize that the true enemy of all this is corruption, generally a tool of local aristocracies that fosters kleptocracy. Law, in this case, must be at least evenhanded in PROCESS, even if it is unfair on paper.)
Ask poor people in, say, Sumatra etc whether they would prefer being temporarily exploited by Addidas (while saving real wages to put in real banks and using cash to buy their kids schoolbooks, so those kids can become lawyers and organize unions or sue Addidas....) Or whether they would prefer to continue under abusive feudal landlords, slaving and sharecropping and accumulating nothing, not even title to the home they built. At least under globalization, electricity and water arrive, sewers get dug. And schools. And yes, none of this guarantees democracy. That's why I urge everybody to also support Project Witness!
But when uncorrupt and reliable civil law allows people to accumulate savings and educate their kids, major oppression cannot last more than another generation. It has a built in time limit.
So no, the Left is simply not making any sense. It is not even helping a little bit. Because by spouting nonsense versions of reform economics, they only encourage people to turn away from more pragmatic forms of liberalism and listen, instead, to nonsense exaggerations on the right...
...such as the equally loony notion that markets are self-regulating. And aristocracies don't conspire to cheat and exploit unfair advantages. Or that the rich are somehow friendlier to genuine markets because they are rich. (The diametric opposite to what is shown by history.)
But stop. For the kick to the right, let me turn to our own Stefan, who provided the following excerpt from a really rich rant, You can find the whole thing at http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2005/08/president-and-intelligent-design.html
I don't go as far as this ranter. Indeed, by September I hope to start my episodic essay on religion and you may all be VERY surprised!
Still, this choice rant really is worth the price of admission. Enjoy.
"Here you are, Tsui or Sanjay, looking at a new century. A century in which the exponential curve of technology's rise becomes a sheer cliff. In which only the most intellectually nimble countries, best able to master new information technologies and couple them with manufacturing bases with high levels of technical training, will survive.
"And you're looking at that big bastard across the ocean, the US of A. First to build the Bomb. First to master the secrets of the atom. First to build the semiconductor. First and only tribe of humans who actually put men on the GODDAM MOON, to have stepped on another rock in space. Decoders of the human genome, the VERY BOOK OF LIFE !!! How will we ever stop --
"Wow, they forfeit. Cool.
"Even if your kids aren't directly taught ID or aren't in one of the new Bible Class districts, the overarching cultural damage has already been done. Through this group of RadicalRighties' constant rhetoric, they consistently strip away the idea that there is indeed a rigorous scientific process through which certain non-negotiable physical truths can be ascertained. They have suffused the county with an intellectual laziness and a terrifying narcissism. Opinion has been enshrined as superior to fact. No longer need a person take into account the way the world works when forming their worldview -- they can instead hunt down "facts" and "theories" which support their own comfort zone, and what's worse, we can NO LONGER CALL BULLSHIT. Because if our leaders -- pardon me, your leaders -- don't call bullshit, who will? They have undermined the very process by which we know WHEN to call bullshit!"
Har! That is, it would be funny... if I weren't crying....
==Continue to Part III