How to save yourself from globalization

By Dr. Eline Gautschi, Zurich

[This book review of “Counterpoints to the Standardized World. How to save yourself from globalization” by Walter Hess published in: Zeit-Fragen, 8/29/2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

Walter Hess’ goal is to set counterpoints to the current and often shallow and insipid information offered the politically interested in the media. The author gained his perspective through his own journalistic activity. Fundamental themes of humanity are often discussed one-sidedly today or not reported at all. Few know the manipulation methods to which they are exposed in their everyday life by the mass media.

In concise chapters, the author describes the disastrous effects of globalization. For centuries, the western world has intervened in culturally superior countries – recently Afghanistan and Iraq – and transformed them into heaps of rubble. Occupation, selfish economic interests and power were always involved while social and ecological responsibilities were rapidly lost. Everything is subordinated today to market radicalism on the basis of free trade philosophy instead of making the quality of life for all living beings the basis of conduct and trade.

The custom-made economic policy with which every country could create the prerequisites for businesses at home and abroad fell by the wayside within a few years. The space for independent individual and social developments is increasingly narrowed by this policy. “Globalization” clearly turns out to be an aspect of destabilization, destruction and narrowing. In the so-called global village, an increasing loss in consciousness of responsibility, standardization on a low level, depersonalization and increasing anonymity are joined with intensified data acquisition and surveillance of privacy to identify and eliminate nonconformists.” (p.12)

Under the pressure of deregulation and globalization, many traditional businesses have collapsed. Hosts of good reliable workers have lost their jobs; grave management errors often caused heavy debts. That representatives of the Greens and the Social Democratic Party promoted this mocked all reason, the author said. “Plausible reasons for all the globalization steps, especially those that could lie in the interest of the working population, cannot be found. The sooner one buries this model with its disastrous effects, the smaller will be the damage. Preliminary stages of globalization like the EU are also ripe for liquidation.” (p.22)

The age of colonialization in countries contemptuously described as third world countries shamelessly continues. At best these countries served as opportune raw material suppliers making fun of all ethics. This development is speeded up by the WTO, flanked by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and UN organizations that act against so-called “trade barriers” with legislative and judicial power. In the course of worldwide standardization, ecological goals were not considered. On the contrary, nature conservation standards and referendum results were frequently cancelled and subordinated to economic interests. The world plague of globalization is a practiced philosophy in the interests of business and exploitation without responsibility toward our living space and without humanliness.” (p.44)

International agreements that are hardly discussed are very serious for present world policy. The WTO agreement called GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) with its objective of selling public institutions to private suppliers is little known. The negotiations took place behind closed doors without the public learning that their public services developed with tax funds will be gradually withdrawn and sold off at cut-rate prices to profit-oriented international conglomerates. These international agreements in which water, electricity, health care and education will be thrown on the global world market touch traditions, values and public provisions and entail losses in solidarity and public welfare. The creative possibilities of parliament and the people are increasingly curtailed. National characteristics will have no room any more. People adjust voluntarily to larger entities. Switzerland with its unique democracy will feel the limited possibilities of joining in the discussion.

The author illustrates these theses with powerful examples of worldwide privatizations of public services and the decline of renowned firms. Active resistance against this inhuman development setting economic interest above public interest is imperative. Urgent intervention and cooperation by the people, cancellation of privatization of public goods, preventive protective measures and rejection of the GATS agreement through GATS-free-zones are part of this resistance.

After these basic explanations of globalization as a foundation of current policy, the author focuses on the consequences of this development on our everyday life, the effects of misguided education, serious dismantling of training possibilities, a wrongly understood idea of sickness, genetically engineered or sickened food, electro-smog and mass production in agriculture. The author sees chances and possibilities here for countering all this with healthy food and a more sensible organization of life of the standardized globalized world. “Globalization threatens the diversity that is enriching and stimulating and wholesome for the soul and promotes hopeless simplemindedness.” (p.13)

There is a way out. There are counterpoints to the standardized world dictated from above but only if we “become active subjects,” the author says. “Be watchful!” With this summons, he concludes his book sprinkled with ironic discoveries and many suggestions for further reading, reflecting and acting.