The Nation takes on globalization

With Joseph Stiglitz leading the way, progressives try to tame the global beast.


Andrew Leonard
March 31, 2006 5:10AM (UTC)

I don't know whether to be annoyed or relieved: in the Nation's current roundup of progressive takes on globalization, Joseph Stiglitz (2001 Nobel Prize winner, former World Bank chief economist, author of "Globalization and Its Discontents") delivers a sublime little manifesto that works very nicely as a mission statement for How the World Works. It would have been handy to have around when this blog kicked off.

Stiglitz' offering is short and should be read in full, but here's my highlight:

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"Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries have shown that there is an alternative way to cope with globalization. These countries are highly integrated into the global economy; but they are highly successful economies that still provide strong social protections and make high levels of investments in people. They have been successful in part because of these policies, not in spite of them. Full employment and strong safety nets enable individuals to undertake more risk (with the commensurate high rewards) without unduly worrying about the downside of failure. These countries have not abandoned the welfare state but have fine-tuned it to meet globalization's new demands. We should do the same."

"At the same time, we must temper globalization itself -- not by withdrawing behind protectionist borders and not by trying to enhance the well-being of our citizens at the expense of those abroad who are even poorer."

That, of course, is the great challenge of globalization: How do we simultaneously maintain a high standard of living in the developed world while contributing to rising prosperity abroad? The rest of the panelists in the Nation's "Taming Global Capitalism Anew" forum offer a variety of prescriptions for solving this problem, many of which have to do with fighting for international labor standards and tying workers' rights to measures seeking greater trade liberalization.

But it's hard to imagine any progress being made without a significant change in the makeup of Congress and the resident party in the White House. What is needed is to take the various safety net and labor-strengthening prescriptions scattershot by the Nation's contributors and craft them into a program that wins at the ballot box. Are any Democrats listening?


Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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