Monday, January 31, 2005

What Could Stop Globalization?

Via Yglesias, this CIA report on globalization and what could stop it. A main argument is that the onrush of globalization could be stopped by white-collar backlash against outsourcing, insecurity in different important nations, and especially disease epidemics.

All of these are possible, particularly disease epidemics. But I don't think an outbreak of disease, even one of the scale of the 1918-19 influenza epidemic is going to stop globalization. This could certainly slow it down, as could terrorist attacks. But the real long-term threat to globalization and American hegemony over the globe is energy supplies. The current supply of oil pretty well secures American dominance for the next 50 years or so, even as China and India slowly become more powerful. But with America's lack of investment in long-term and renewable energy resources we are really putting ourselves at risk. There's a time and a reason for every empire's decline and I have to think that the mid to late 21st century and the end of the petroleum-based economy will be the reason for America's.

Interestingly, I don't really see this as a good thing. I used to think that globalization should be stopped or severely controlled but at this point I don't see how this can be a good thing for either my way of life or that of the rest of the world. There are obviously gigantic problems with how globalization is done, particularly the ways that governments and corporations take advantage of 3rd world workers. But what option is there that would allow people to live as good of lives as they do now, even in places like India, Cambodia, and Honduras. It's a real challenge for the Left I think to come up with some alternatives.