Saturday, 19 November 2016

Should we allow Globalization in its present form remain that way?

This article was written jointly by Roger Froikin and Bat-Zion Susskind -Sacks

“Globalization is here to stay.” This is the latest joint declaration of Obama and Merkel.
An objective dictionary definition of the term suggests that the term means “The process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale.” Apparently, a decent idea aimed at removing barriers, economic and cultural, between nations and bringing people and societies together. It has been suggested that it is, according to Jean Monnet, one of the European Union founders, a way to make war a thing of the past by creating co-dependency and cooperation. It has been experimented with in various forms for a long time.

Our question then is, has it proved successful? If Obama and Merkel mean that the process once begun cannot be stopped, maybe they have a point. But if they meant that “Globalization” is a process so important and so powerful so that it must ignore its negative consequences in the interest of some higher goal, they are wrong.

For Roger and myself and for many others, the term “Globalization” evokes the unavoidable association and recollection of the biblical story of Babylon. Babylon in turn, conjures anything that goes against G-d and humanity’s code of moral conduct. We have heard of the “harlot of Babylon,” the lascivious and immoral conduct of its inhabitants which, we believe is also hinted at on Leonard Cohen’s song “Dance Me to the End of Love,” where he says. “Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon.” Babylon, as many know, is also the cradle of some of the pagan religions that sought to compete and destroy Judaism. What “Babylon” was, was a centralization of all power and influence in a small elite who saw it in their interest to squash all who dissented - cultures, religions, languages – all had either to be in the interests of those in control, or had to disappear. A world of diversity had to become a world of uniformity serving the new order imposed by those at the top - for the good of all. The problem then – and now, is that when uniformity is imposed, whose culture, whose rules, whose choices will be imposed on everyone for the benefit usually of those who are running the game or have access to those running the game.

The Biblical story of Babylon as recounted in Genesis, like the idea of modern day concept of globalization, was a counter reaction to certain realities that needed to be addressed. Prior to the Flood, per, people “had been interested only in themselves; they thought of themselves as supermen and lived each one for himself alone; they used violence and force against their weaker neighbors, paying no attention to laws and rules.”

We witness the same phenomenon unfolding itself in front of us nowadays. Borders are crumbling, economies with different outlooks and different work ethics are forced to work together removing the rewards from the hardworking ones and benefiting the less ambitious ones. Individuals who are yearning for self-expression and practicing their rights for individualism are silenced and reduced to becoming mere sheep, all for the benefit of a global society. Individuality and the integrity of one’s own mind lost its inviolability. The ‘we’ has replaced the ‘I’ leaving us with neither being capable of guiding humanity anymore.

In theory, Globalization is fine. It has the potential of being more opportunity and a better life to everyone. In practice, it has been much less so historically. Somewhere, some place there is the golden mean, the course of combining the two, enhancing one’s ability for self-expression and directing it towards benefiting us all. And that “golden mean” can best be reached by encouraging free and fair trade, allowing market forces, not bureaucrats and making the decisions balanced by a moral approach that requires fairness to all.

1 comment:

  1. Rabbi Lapin observes that at Babel bricks were used -- uniform, one-size-fits-all masonry. HaShem, says he, demands alters of field stone.