Globalization's Missing Middle
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In the new global economy, rich and poor nations
are doing fine. It is those like the countries of Latin America in
the middle that are struggling
By Geoffrey Garrett
Illustration by John Fish
It is sometimes hard to remember that the debate over globalization
dominated world politics from the end of the Cold War in
the late 1980s until September 11, 2001. On one side of the discussion
stand the boosters of globalization, represented by the "Washington
consensus" among the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank
and the U.S. Treasury, as well as the globetrotting pilgrims to
the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. They assert that
the integration of global markets is not only good for them, it
is also the best way to enrich and empower the world's have-nots.
Critics of globalism — populist politicians, labor leaders, environmentalists
and other activists — come together wherever and whenever the Washington
consensus meets, most notoriously during the "battle in Seattle"
at the meeting of the World Trade Organization in December 1999.
For them, globalization only lines the pockets of the global elite
at the expense of working people, developing countries and the planet.
The debate over the spoils of economic globalization has taken
on new meaning since September 11. President Bush made his views
clear on the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks: "Poverty,
corruption and repression are a toxic combination in many societies.
. . . Free trade and free markets have proved their ability to lift
whole societies out of poverty, so the United States is working
. . . to build a world that trades in freedom and therefore grows
in prosperity." But the criticisms continue, with the Democratic
candidate for president lamenting the "offshoring" of not only manufacturing
but also call centers and other services during America's "jobless"
Is the president right that "a world that trades in freedom" is
one that also "grows in prosperity"? My answer is yes — and no.
I believe that there are three discrete worlds of globalization,
and each has important but different implications for the future
course of global politics.