Monday, February 26, 2007

Globalization and sustainability

Globalization means the world is not only more prosperous, it also is more stable. This short commentary got me to thinking why is it that people struggle to accept globalization as a positive force for change. Two things come to mind. One is an ongoing and widespread mis-conception about wealth. The second is the persistence of false predictions of resource scarcity. In both instances, the root ideology appears to be a concern that the world either has too many people, and/or too many people consuming too much.

Both over-population and over-consumption represent core eco-myths that underscore most ideological environmentalism. Both reflect a moral belief that the world is a perfect and pristine place until besmirched by human beings. The origin of this morality is excellently described by Bidinotto in an essay on individualism and environmentalism. Sadly, I find many eco-zealots have never considered the moral philosophy implicit in their assertions, let alone the practical ramifications that their ideas would manifest.

Contemporary globalization is an imperfect process: but it does show that economic freedom and trade liberalization do result in prosperity and stability. And despite the global warming hysteria, there are no global environmental limits threatening our survival. Economically and environmentally we have the capability to be sustainable. What we lack is the political and cultural will to tackle the social imperatives for sustainability. Why? In large part because ruling elites and intellectuals continue to frame social problems in the guise of "us" versus "them", of "haves" and "have nots", resplendent with fear, prejudice and envy. Human history shows us that any experiment with social engineering has been dependent upon propaganda and the mass mobilisation of fear. And, make no mistake, today's fixation with ecomyths is just that: an experiment with social engineering.

The solution?
  • the empowerment of individuals and nation states in their desire for economic freedom
  • the removal of trade barriers, tariffs and all other elements of protectionism and nationalism, including "cultural" safeguards
  • education that teaches adaptation and self-esteem, and not dogma infused with political correctness and fear
  • political discourse that puts a premium on principles, alternatives and policies and not personalities, polemics and polls.
Easy to stipulate. Much harder to put into practice. Because positive creativity is difficult, the default is criticism and negativity. Persist, as the movie Pay it Forward illustrates, we don't always know how and when our creativity will affect others.