A Critique of the Juliette Beck Speech
Juliette Beck's speech, "Reclaiming Just and Sustainable Communities in the Age of Corporate Globalization" neither adequately described the problems of globalization as it is currently structured, nor did it provide any answers to the problems with it, either the real problems that actually exist (labor and environmental exploitation) or the problems that Beck purported (large corporations). Primarily, Beck's speech was flawed in that it was incoherent and empirical incorrect. For instance 1) it purported the idea that globalization was "not inevitable", 2) it called upon the myth of "small is beautiful", confusing the real problem with globalization (Capitalist structure) with a false problem (the scale of the Corporate in a globalized world), and 3) it was often merely incorrect in some of the ideas and statistics that it stated. Also, the speech was not true to its title (well, maybe it was in that both were basically ridden with non-sense), in that it did not give real economic or political alternatives to Corporate Globalization.
First, globalization already exists. The world's economic structure is already on a global scale. Although change is possible, the idea that we can regress back into history, destroying a globalized world and making Localism over all is not only a bad idea, but a useless, silly one. Capitalism, by its nature, is acquisitive, as is also imperialism. As long as either exist (usually joint hand and hand, at least in this point of pre-history), they will seek out, with the world's wonderful technology and knowledge, the few unmolested areas left in the world. These forces, by the sheer scale that they exist on, are impossible to overthrow at local levels, as people such as Beck would have you believe. Some other system, a large global one, would have to exist in order to ensure that either of these acquisitive systems would be unable to acquire and exploit the world en masse. Localism, by its nature, cannot address problems that exist beyond local levels. Globalization, it should be obvious, is one of these. Too bad for us on the left certain supposedly left political analysts of global activity cannot pick up this basic truth.
Maybe part of the reason one analyst in particular is unable to realize the futility of localism is that she has succumbed to the false romantic ideology that "small is beautiful". Much in the same way as libertarians and conservative, Beck beat on the drum of Localism, relating to the audience the 'horrors' of such companies as Wal-Mart, Nike, and Starbucks. She advised us not to shop at these as they (in the case of Wal-Mart) "drive out mom and pop stores" in local communities. As an alternative, we should shop at locally own stores, and buy "fair-trade" coffee. One should not try to persuade others into action on the basis of one's own guilt, for it is...