Adult Programs    Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church   Bethesda, Maryland


October 3, 2003

This is a class mainly for people who have not made up their minds about economic  globalization. It also is intended for persons who have not completely made up their minds about this subject. I count myself in the second category. My views have changed as I have prepared for this class, and I anticipate that they will continue to change.

If you have made up your mind about economic gobalization, you are certainly are welcome here, and we will be glad to hear from you.  But I hope you will respect the needs of those persons who have not yet reached firm conclusions.

In this class, we will walk in the moccasins of  four different tribes: the liberal separatists, the liberal integrationists, the conservative separatists, and the conservative integrationists.  We will also try to understand their detractors, their divisions, their  alliances, and how they martial their arguments in the competition for our allegiance and support.

I will attempt to present each main point of view on economic globalization as it sees itself, from the inside looking out. Then I will present it as its critics see it, from the outside looking in.  So, if even you conclude that my four-sided paradigm is too complicated for your taste, I hope you will appreciate that we are applying here the very simplest of rules of dealing with controversial subjects: pay attention to at least two sides of the story. 

Tonight I will focus on a framework used through most of this course. We will then discuss definitions of economic globalization and the UUA's Social Witness process, which will culminate at GA in Boston in June of 2003.  Finally, I will give you a modest amount of homework for next time. You don't have to do it, but I think that it will help. 

My presentation tonight will take about 45 minutes.  That should leave about 45 minutes for discussion.  I have asked, Bill Pratt, the fairest-minded man I know in this church, to lead the discussion period so that we can have fullest possible play to questions and opinions.

Exhibit 1 shows the basic content of the framework on which I am going to hang this course. 




Persona:  James Wolfensohn  Persona:  Alan Greenspan

Message: Humanize Globalization  Message: Efficiency Lifts All Boats

Book:  The Lexus and the Olive Tree    Book: The Competitive Advantage of (Thomas Friedman)  Nations  (Michael Porter)


Persona: Ralph Nader    Persona: Pat Buchanan

Message: Protect Them Against Us  Message: Protect Us Against Them

Book: When Corporations Rule the World Book: Death of the West

(David Korton)                (Pat Buchanan) 

I borrowed the basic idea for this framework from Tom Freidman. I have made a lot of changes, but the basic concept is his. Now I am certainly not wedded to Tom Friedman's ideas on globalization.   Later on in this course, we will look in some depth at the substance of the views expressed in Friedman's Lexus and Olive Tree - and at the  criticisms that have been leveled at this book,  Friedman's work is by no means unassailable. All the same,  I do think that his classification characterization of the policy positions on globalization - who's for it, who's against it, and which political philosophies the contenders represent makes as much sense as anything else that I have read or heard on this subject.  So let's take a quick look at the Freidman original shown in Exhibit 2.



[Graphic taken from The Lexus and the Olive Tree (p. 438)

Friedman called my Liberals “Social-Safety-Netters” and he called my Conservatives “Let-Them-Eat-Cakers. Friedman thinks his classification helps to explain why Bill Clinton, an Integrationist Social-Safety-Netter could collaborate with Newt Gringrich on free trade issues, whilst  the two of them were bitterly opposed on social security and welfare spending. Simarlarly, Dick Gephart, a Separatist Social-Safety-Netter and Ross Perot, the Separatist Let-Them-Eat-Caker, were allies fighting against NAFTA, but opponents on social security and welfare spending.  Whatever one may think of Tom Friedman and his own position on globalization, I submit that his paradigm provides a reasonably sound, objectively verifiable insight concerning the nature of the forces arrayed in favor and against economic globalization. 

You will note that I have rotated Friedman's paradigm by 90 degrees and flip-flopped it, so that the Liberal/ Social-Safety-Netters show up on the left and the Conservative Let-Them-Eat-Cakers show up on the right. The Integrationists are on the top and the Separatists on the bottom in my framework. [Show Exhibit 1.]

Note also that I have substituted James Wolfensohn for Friedman's Bill Clinton as the liberal integrationist of choice and Alan Greenspan for Newt Gingrich.  My substitutes have the virtue of being directly involved in the current action - even though they have distinctly less colorful personalities than Clinton and Gingrich. 

I have substituted Ralph Nader for Dick Gephart and Pat Buchanan for Ross Perot. No loss of color in that transaction.  If you doubt that there is at least a partial meeting of the minds between Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan, I commend to your attention to the November 28, 1999 transcript of the joint  interview with these two gentlemen on the subject of globalization from the TIME Magazine archives.  ( A print-out of that transcript is in the materials you will receive at the end of class tonight.

I have identified a message and a book on globalization with each viewpoint.  The “message” attempts to sum up its position in a sound bite, like “Protect Them Against Us” or “Protect Us Against Them.” But surely sound bites are not enough. At the end of each class, I will supply you with several pages that provide some perspectives on the positions to be discussed in the next class.  These materials aren't substitutes for reading books on the subject. But I hope they will be helpful.

I wish I could tell you that there was one book that provides a balanced and reasonably objective overview on economic globalization.  If there is, I  haven't found it.  There are, however, plenty of volumes authored by true believers of one stripe or another who mostly want to tell you why they are right and then refer you to lots of stuff written by people who agree with them.  So, if you are into reading books on globalization, my advice is to read two at a time --  and make sure that they reflect contrasting points of view. 

Exhibit 3 shows our class schedule



Session #1  (October  3)  Who's For and Who's Against Ecoonmic Globalization? How should Economic Globalization Be Defined? Defining Your Own Position

Session #2  (October 10) Understanding the Liberal Separatist Position: KORTON, Nader, Greider, and Mander. Where do Oxfam and the Big Three Middle Ground economists (Stiglitz, Rodrik, and Sen) fit? 

Session #3 (October 17) Understanding the Conservative Integrationist Position: PORTER, Greenspan, and Yergins

Session #4 (October 24) Understanding the Conservative Separatist  Position: Perot, BUCHANAN, and the John Birch Society 

Session #5 (October 31) Understanding the Liberal Integrationist Position: FREIDMAN, Krugman, Wolfensohn, and the Brookings group

Section #6  (November 7) What should the UUA position on Economic Globalization Be?  Is there a middle ground?

There may be some adjustments as we go along  -- I am still considering whether to give Oxfam and the Middle Three Economists (Stiglitz, Rodrik, and Sen) more time, but you can see that the structure of the discussion follows the basic framework in Exhibit 1.  Notice there are quite a few names of writers and organizations mentioned in the Exhibit.  I expect to to touch on all of them lightly, but to concentrate on those in  UNDERLINED CAPS.

A deep distrust of economics and economists is a particularly interesting feature of the debate on economic globalization, particularly World Bank and the IMF economists.  In the case of the WTO, the allergic reaction seems to focus primarily on lawyers.

Now you will note that none of the authors of the volumes on which I intend to concentrate has been trained as a theoretical economist or a lawyer - -  not David Korten (an organizational development specialist), not Tom Friedman (a journalist), not Buchanan (a journalist cum politician), nor even Michael Porter. Porter, who is a Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, comes closest. He has a BSE in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a Ph.D in Business Economics from Harvard. Porter is hardly a Milton Friedman or a John Maynard Keynes, but is a respected guy who has come up with his own point of view. 

Nevertheless, the subject of the UUA's social witness process and of this class is economic globalization, and we will not hesitate in this class to examine the views of leading economists who speak to the world in terms that most intelligent people can understand.  We will  certainly pay attention to Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz, two Nobel Prize winning economists who inhabit the borderland between belief in liberal

integration and liberal separation.

- - - -

When I first proposed this class to the Adult Programs Committee, Jerry Klein promptly informed me that I was expected to provide a definition of economic globalization. I said I would, so I guess I am stuck with that task.  I will first give you my closely related family of definitions. And then I will tell you why I think you should be reluctant to accept any definition - - including my family of definitions.  My foundational definition, is as follows: 

The rapid proliferation of cross-border production, trade, and investment activities, principally undertaken by corporations and international financial institutions, resulting in an increasingly integrated global economy.

To make it simpler, I would settle for:

The rapid proliferation of cross-border production, trade, and investment activities, principally undertaken by corporations and international financial institutions.

To make it simpler still, I most prefer:

The rapid proliferation of cross-border production, trade, and investment activities.



The rapid proliferation of cross-border production, trade, and investment activities.

The rapid proliferation of cross-border production, trade, and investment activities, principally undertaken by corporations and international financial institutions.

The rapid proliferation of cross-border production, trade, and investment activities, principally undertaken by corporations and international financial institutions, resulting in an increasingly integrated global economy.

Now beware.  Beware of argument by definition. Focus not so much on the words of a definition as on where the person proposing the definition is about to take you. 

Where am I attempting to take you with this definition? Well, first of all I have excluded population movements -    expulsion, migration, immigration, and seeking of sanctuaries as causal factors.  My definition also pretty much shifts attention away from issues of political control in an age when money talks to governments across the globe and also away from the worldwide competition in social values. I am not sure that would be entirely satisfactory to persons whose main concerns are those of cultural intrusion, colonialism and the world-wide spread of the McDonald's and other fast food restaurants. 

I could of course change “increasinly integrated global economy” to “increasingly integrated world,” in order to make room for other than strictly economic factors, but that is unlikely to please those who feel that economic globalization is tearing the world apart.  My own definition probably will not please the group consisting primarily of some academic sociologists and political scientists who call themselves critical “globalization theorists”.  This school is, as I understand it, reluctant to exclude much of anything of any kind that crosses borders from the reach of the term “globalization.”

It is almost impossible, in my view, to propose a definition that cannot be seen as containing some kind of implicit agenda with respect to economic globalization.  And, particularly for the purposes of this class, I think that much more is to be gained by analyzing definitions than from composing them. 

As I said at the Sunday Forum, a telling definition at the margin has been provided by some passages in Pat Buchanan's book Death of the West, indexed under the rubric “globalism.”

In politics [Buchanan says at p. 54], the new faith is globalist and skeptical of partriotism, for an excessive love of country too often leads to suspicion of neighbors and thence to war.  The history of nations is a history of wars, and the new faith intends to end nations.  Support for the UN, foreign aid, treaties to ban land mines, abolish nuclear weapons, punish war crimes, and forgive the debts of poor nations are the marks of progressive men and women. Whenever a new supranational institution is formed - the World Trade Organization, the Kyoto Protocol to prevent global warming - - the revolution will support the authority of the new institutions of global governance.

In its agenda for world community [Buchanan at pages 236-237], the Humanist Manifesto was almost prophetic.  Americans, it declared, must 'transcend the limits of national sovereignty and . . .move toward the building of a world community . . . We look to . . . a world order based on transnational federal government  . . . '  

This idea, of an end of nations and the creation of a world government, has been a dream of intellectuals since Kant. Though utopian, it recurs in every generation. It is a Christian heresy.

So for Pat Buchanan, globalism and the Humanist Manifesto are pretty much the same thing.  Pat wants to see an end of new funding for the IMF and the World Bank. As for the IMF, Buchanan says:

America's ultimate goal should be the abolition of the WTO and a return to bilateral trade enforced by the United States and its trade partners, and an end to this international tribunal in which America has but one vote and the European Union has fifteen.

Now does this tell us anything more than that Pat Buchanan is Pat Buchanan, and that his arguments start and end essentially in the same place?  I think it can.  Buchanan has no trouble putting the WTO in the same kettle with the Kyoto protocol and with treaties to punish war crimes and ban land mines.  I would suppose most liberal separatists would not accept this one-condemnation-fits-all treatment, that most would insist on establishing at least two international pots, one for fare they deem highly digestable (the Kyoto treaty, for example) and another containing the WTO and perhaps other unfavored institutions.   

I think that tells us that “sovereignty”, as this idea is used on the left, is not as simple  a concept as it is to Mr. Buchanan. It is almost as though liberals can push a mental button that raises or lowers at will a psychic wall called “sovereignty.” If we see the WTO or NAFTA as a threat to our legal process or to our workers, up goes the psychic wall in the name of sovereignty - -  and it bristles with rejection.

But as we look out over suffering humanity, down goes the psychic wall - - and we are ready to launch our crusades across borders.  We are the world, we are at one with the poor.  Their poverty becomes evidence of our failures and requires that we change the system. The deterioration of the environment in the Third World becomes a signal that we need to do something different.  I am not saying that raising and lowering this psychic wall of identity and responsibility is necessarily wrong, but we ought to be aware of what is going on as we set the terms of the debate.

There is a view in evidence in the developing countries to the effect that our interventions on behalf of better labor standards and better environmental practices are not necessarily a favored idea, in that they stand in the way of permitting these countries to achieve what we accomplished in the 19th century in our own country in Lowell and Pittsburg and Chicago through unfettered industrial development.  Japan did it. Korea did it. Taiwan did it. China and India are doing it now, but now here we come marching  in to stop them from doing it  - - and incentally to make their goods less competitive in our markets. 

A response to that argument is there is no reason to permit things to go the wrong way in

the Third World simply because we allowed them to go wrong here a century ago and others did it subsequently. At its heart, we believe, improving the lot of humanity requires us to use both the sword of social justice (roll down the psychic wall that separates us from humanity and let us go forth) and the shield of social justice (roll up the wall and let us defend  our democratic autonomy and our cultural values from the ramparts). And so, perhaps, this is simply another way of saying that we are determined to use all the powers within our command to bring the Kingdom of God to earth.

How about that, Unitarians?




IMF Conditionality   Labor Standards

World Bank Conditionality   Debt Forgiveness

NAFTA Chapter 11   Environmental Standards

Tribunal Secrecy   Macroeconomic Management

Commodity Agreements   Safety Nets

Infant Industry Protection   Cultural Intrusion

Rights in Intellectual Property   Immigration 

Financial Volatility/Tobin Tax  Mass Migration

Privatization    Localization

Adjustment Assistance   National Sovereignty

Anti-dumping laws   Taxation

Subsidization   Poverty

Governance of the Bretton Woods Institutions (IMF, World Bank, and WTO)

Protests Against the Bretton Woods Institutions (IMF, World Bank, and WTO)

Well, now I would like to turn to a more cerebral subject -- how to approach the definition of economic globalization as a summative abstractionExhibit 5 shows some of the issues that typically are placed on the table as one enters into a discussion of globalization. Those of you who came to the Sunday Forum saw a version of this Exhibit.  I have added a few subsidiary issues since then, and I am by no means sure I have covered them all.

Many of these subsidiary issues have to do with international trade and investment and these tend to slop over into the national or sub-national issues shown in the column on the right. Some of these subsidiary issues are pretty concrete, like NAFTA Chapter 11 that permits individual foreign investors to sue national governments for actions tantamount to expropriation. Others, like sovereignty, are as complex and abstract as economic globalization itself.  But concrete or abstract, there are a whole lot of subsidiary issues.   So getting down to solid discussion on a single subject - -  and sticking with that single subject - - in the context of a discussion of economic globalization can be as difficult as trying to capture a glob of mercury that has fallen on the floor.    

Some sociologists and political scientists have become practitioners of what is sometimes called “critical globalization theory.” Manuel Castells, Anthony Giddens, and Jan Aart Scholte are among those that see globalization as a unitary if highly multifaceted causitive force (you can find these authors' books at This multifaceted force is causing or failing to remedy poverty, causing or failing to remedy social disintegration, causing or failing to remedy exploitation of the poor and their children.  But this theory is very controversial. If you wish to learn more about the academic contention on this subject, you get to Justin Rosenberg's, The Follies of Globalization Theory (London: Verso, 2000) on the Internet (by typing in “Rosenberg” at

In philosophy, there is a logical fallacy, known as “reification,” which is to regard a concept or abstraction as a concrete thing. One can argue that the attempt to assign praise or blame or causality to a concept as abstract as economic globalization represents a profound logical mistake of this kind.

On a more practical level,  no legislator votes for or against economic globalization. Legislators vote for or against NAFTA, for or against fast track legislation, for or against adjustment assistance.  World Bank Officials do not write clauses into their loans instructing recipients to “globalize;” they write conditions concerning budget levels, export performance, and import regimes.

If we decide we are for or against globalization (or something in-between) at a very high level of abstraction, what does that tell us about whether the World Bank should cancel its debt to the least developed countries?  Can we make a moral judgment on the higher-order question of economic globalization and use it to decide the lower order question of debt foregiveness without doing the kinds of basic staff work that would normally be required to justify a a policy change on debt foregiveness in the first place?  Can we leap into the atmosphere, make judgements on a conceptual level, and then return to earth with a credible program of action?  It seems to me that as we define “economic globalization” for purposes of our Social Witness Process, we have to pay careful attention to where we are taking this process and how we intend to use its results.

- - - -

I would like to turn now from the realm of cerebration and abstractions to the world of feeling.   I do perceive that there is an emotional/ideological substratum to discussions of economic globalization that is very important because it is at that foundational level that much of the real persuasion on this subject takes place.  In my Sunday Forum, I urged caution about getting hooked on title phrases like “The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism” and “When Corporations Rule the World” or “Globaphobia: Confronting Fears About Open Trade.”  I want to carry this idea further. But I would like to have your help and criticism in this, as I do not feel that I am on my own strongest ground when I talk about what might be termed “the psychology and poetry of economic globalization.” 

First of all, it strikes me that emotions and ideological commitments are a lot closer to the surface in the case of the separatists, both liberal and conservative, than is the case with the more analytical integrationists. 

On the surface, I think, one is more likely to encounter unadulterated hope and fear, anger and conspiracy, ideological passion and energy in the pages of books written by separatists, whereas a more restrained and sober tone seems to predominate among the integrationists, but I not at all sure that applies when the discussion turns to the protests that have been going on in downtown Washington DC.  

When one views economic globalization as a kind of ideological/emotional Rorschach test,  a spread effect can become evident.  In the liberal separatist came  McDonald becomes McWorld, and the “Mc” in both comes to stand for “Metastacizing cancer.”  Feelings about the environment merge into feelings about international trade merge into feelings about war.  The establishment is wrong. We are being led in the wrong direction.

Is there ideological/emotional spread-effect in the integrationist camp as well?  I think so, but it is less evident, perhaps even deliberately shrouded.   What do you think?       

And, with that question hanging in the air, I would like to turn to another kind of inquiry, graphically posed in Exhibit 6.



Exhibit 6 seeks an answer to the question “Where do you locate yourself on a partitioned circular chart?  As part of your homework for next week, I am going to ask you to place yourself somewhere on this chart.  We will repeat this exercise for the final week of class. It will be interesting to see whether your position changes in any way.

You see before you a circle divided into four quadrants (more or less).  In the upper left quadrant is the liberal integrationist, in the lower left the liberal separatist. The upper right quadrant is the conservative integrationist; the conservative separatist is in the lower right. This is the same layout as that is shown in Exhibit 1.   

But what is different about  Exhibit 6?  Well first of all, you can place yourself anywhere in any quadrant.  You can sit on the line between quadrants, as a Mugwump, your mug on one side of the fence and your wump on the other. You can register your position as totally certain by going to the very edge of the circle. Or you can demonstrate that you are totally uncertain by placing yourself at the center where the lines cross. In effect, you can choose any degree of certainty you choose, from 0% at the center to 100% at the edge.



On Exhibit 7, I have located our four main exponents on economic globalization, Friedman, Porter, Korten, and Buchanan.  My perception is that Korton and Buchanan are slightly surer of their positions (closer to the edge of the circle) than are Friedman and Porter, but that the differences among all four in this respect are not very great.  I also think that Friedman is closer to Porter than Korten is to Buchanan, but that is simply my own seat-of-the-pants judgment. 



On Exhibit 8, I indicate where I think the London-based NGO, Oxfam and the President of  the United States, George W. Bush are located.   Again I have made seat-of-the-pants judgments, with which you are certainly free to disagree.  Both of them sit on Mugwump lines between the integrationist and separatist quadrants, but I have located them at the 100%-sure edge of the circle. Though both have taken positions in two quadrants, both also have pronounced themselves very sure of their opinions and actions. 

George W. Bush has talked the talk of conservative integration, and he has succeed in getting fast-track legislation through the Congress. But he has also walked the walk of imposing barriers against steel imports and signing on to substantial agricultural subsidies.   So I have shown Bush a little more oriented toward conservative separatism than conservative integration  - - at least for the present.

In its report, “Rigged Rules and Double Standards,” Oxfam has taken the position that industrialized countries should drop all barriers to trade with the Third World, but that the Third World should not be required to reciprocate.  In essence, this is half a loaf of free trade. I have shown Oxfam more heavily in the Liberal Separatist camp, because I think this NGO talks about, and proposes that we walk, a course that would alter the functioning of international economy in ways that go well beyond the lowering and raising of walls between markets.



In June of 2001, the UUA General Assembly voted to develop a draft Statement of Conscience on Economic Globalization.  Next spring, at the 2003 General Assembly in Boston we will vote on a denominational position on this issue. I attended the 2002 General Assembly in Quebec City, and went to every session I could find that dealt with this subject.  Those of you whom came to my Sunday Forum presentation know that I found that the prize-winning sermon on this subject was well balanced and that a session conducted by the Commission on Social Witness maintained neutrality. However, with one very modest exception, the chorus of anti-globalization voices at the Quebec City GA was overwhelming. 

The latest version the Study/Action Issue Resource Guide [available on the Internet at] produced under the aegis of the Commission on Social Witness , substituted David Korton's When Corporations Rule the World for Tom Friedman's Lexus and the Olive Tree as the study group book of choice. As those of you who attended my Sunday Forum know, I don't think there should be a single book of choice. I would prefer that the truth emerge by examining the tension between these and other books representing several points of view.  

I am also concerned with the absense of Oxfam from its list of organizations dealing with this issue and with a kind of blindness to the nuances of the position of Amartya Sen, Oxfam's honorary president, that shows up in the Resource Guide's  annotated bibliography. This is a particular concern because I think that Sen's views and Oxfam's position could provide some of the ingredients of a consensus UUA position on Economic Globalization. In your homework package, I have included both the full text of Sen's Los Angeles Times article,  “A World of Extremes: Ten Theses on Globalization” and the abstract of this article that appears in the Resource Guide.  Read them both and judge for yourself whether this abstract reflects the author's position.

In Exhibit 9 I provide my interpretation of the orientation of Study/Action Issue Resource Guide. Basically, what I did was to take a ruler to Sections 2 and 3 that deal with articles, reports, and books. I simply meaured the space devoted to each viewpoint. I would judge that liberal separatist publications outweigh liberal integrationist views by a ratio of somewhere between 20 and 25 to 1.  The Study/Action Issue Resource Guide can be found on the Internet at,htm.  I encourage you to take your own ruler to this document or to perform any other kind of assessment that you prefer.

The “1” in my 20-25 to 1 ratio consists of two books, The Lexus and the Olive Tree and Globaphobia  that are tucked away in a short section entitled “Presenting the Many Sides of Globalization.”



Books that emphasize the benefits of liberal trade:

The Lexus and the Olive Tree

Globaphobia: Confronting our Fears about Open Trade

Books that emphasize the costs of liberal tra de:

One World Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism

The Case Against the Global Economy: And for a Turn to the Local

Those of you who attended the Sunday Forum on this issue will recognize Exhibit B, which shows that the League of Women Voters has balanced these two books on a 1 to 1 basis against William Greider's One World Ready of Not and Jerry Mander's The Case Against the Global Economy.  I think that the League's 1 to 1 ratio is far preferable.  And I will conclude simply by saying that a subsidiary purpose of this course is to demonstrate that Unitarian Universalists can adopt a much fairer and more open-minded approach to this economic globalization than our denominational institutions have exhibited thus far.

Now for the part of this class you have all been waiting for.  Your home work for next time.



Exhibit 6, Where Are You? 



Pages 11-14, from David Korton's When Corporations Rule the World

Full text of Amartya Sen's “A World of Extremes: Ten Theses on Globalization”  ( [See top of page 15 above]

Annotation of Sen's Article on the Study/Action Issue Resource Guide (p. 24 [See top of page 15 above]

Time.Com Transscript of  Buchanan Nader Joint Interview November 1999 (

Thomas Friedman, “Where it Most Matters Globalization Thrives,”  Herald Tribune,  September 23, 2002. (