CIGI event questions merits of globalization

On Mar. 9, the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) held a presentation concerning the changing face of globalization. Jorge Heine of Wilfrid Laurier University, William Coleman, chairman of globalization and public policy at CIGI and award winning essay and novelist John Ralston Saul discussed their book, The Dark Side of Globalization.

Heine took the floor, introducing the night’s presentation by saying, “Being against globalization is like being a modern day Don Quixote; tilting at windmills. But there are two main schools of thought concerning this topic. The first is that people think globalization is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The other is opposed.”

Heine said that their approach to the book was hoped to be somewhere in the middle of these two opinions.

While Heine and Coleman co-authored the book, Saul added his opinion in only a section.

However, this gave him what he considered to be a helpful and unbiased approach to his review.

“When I read your book,” he said, addressing Heine and Coleman, “I don’t think you were the middle ground of the argument but rather, you stood back and took a look at the whole thing. You were outside the pendulum.”

The presentation dealt with the idea that though in many ways globalization is seen as a positive development in today’s world, it can also be seen as “the soft underbelly of corporate imperialism that profits and plunders within the global marketplace,” added the moderator.

“Basically it’s about [the good and bad of] moving goods and services,” Coleman said. “So, moving oranges might be seen as good. But the same globalising circumstances to move goods and produce might also involve moving illegal weapons. You can also talk about the movement of people: People being able to travel, which is a good side, or there’s sex trafficking.”
When Saul took the stage he opened with a blunt statement about these problems.

He said, “Economics shapes everything.” When he then related this to globalization he said, “Globalization basically means that you come at everything in the world through economics.”

He continued on however, to say that there were serious problems with this economic outlook.

“But it was basically mid-19th century economic theory that took the ideas of free trade and capitalism and glued the two opposites together,” he said.
“Inevitably, this was going to produce problems, good things as well but also complications. They’re just very, very outdated approaches.”

The issues and complications produced by globalization can possibly be improved through an economic stance, according to Saul, but no one is thinking of new ideas.

“The new ideas starting to come now because the problems are so obvious,” Saul said, “but we’ve been through three decades without any arguments.”
The presentation never came to a solid conclusion, but possible solutions to these issues could be further explained and explored in their book.