From Conquistadors to Corporations

If we are to talk about "globablization" today, we must first talk about death. What happened in New York and Washington, D.C., last Sept. 11 has squarely put before us the true scale of the moral and human issues this process called "globalization" entails. Let me share with you some simple facts:

Over the course of this coming year, more than 50 million—50,000,000—people will die of preventable disease or malnutrition, human beings the United Nations estimates needn't have died had someone been willing to spend just a dollar or two per person for food or medicine.

To give some perspective, 50 million dead is greater than the total casualties of World War II. It is eight times greater than the Holocaust, about which we all rightly insist "Never Again." It amounts each year to 13,000 World Trade Centers, which must also never be forgotten. And yet—year after year—this loss of life goes on not merely forgotten but unknown to all but a tiny fraction of Americans.

Of those 50 million who will die, there is an even more painful fact: More than 12 million will be children under the age of 5. That's 1 million children needlessly dying every month, a quarter million every week, nearly 40,000 children every day.

 

THE WORD "GLOBALIZATION" is a perfectly modern term, unpoetic, efficiently neutral and technical, a description of what many even now believe is a natural, and therefore inescapable, process going on around the planet—a "golden straightjacket," as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman calls it, that only the foolish and malign refuse to accept. Globalization is also often described as new, the consequence of amazing technological, informational, and market advances unknown even a quarter-century ago.

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 2002
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