Is there a way to expand the debate on globalisation in such manner that it would include all the concerns and issues of the third world people?Is it not possible for the poor to define the shape of globalisastion?How can we include the voices of the poor in the debate?How could we encourage them towards a greater participation?
Is globalisation intrinsically and genetically capable of generating justice,equality and interracial harmony or does it by its very nature promote and sanction injustice,exploitation,oppression,sexploitation and inequality?
Is globalisation at the service of humanity or is it a curse for the future of humanity?Is it genuinely promoting life,health,wholeness and prosperity or is it bringing about gradual and slow death to the human beings and the whole of eco-system?
Does globalisation create more victims than beneficiaries in the long run?Is it a form of neo-colonialism?Is it a subtle continuation of Western imperialism?Is it also giving birth to an Indian Imperialism or a Chinese imperialism?
Is globalisation intrinsically and genetically evil,seductive and destructive?Who defines globalisation? Whose definition and whose rationality is it? Can globalisation be promoted without oppression, exploitation, injustice and sexism?
What is the place of God in globalisation? Where is God in it? If we genuinely and deeply believe in God, why do we have to put our complete trust in profit-maximising?Will globalisationgloballydestroy the globe? Is globalisation the end of the globe?What are the limits to the carrying capacity of the globe? Is globalisation at the service of the reign of God? Is there salvation outside globalisation? Can one critique globalisation without necessarily participating in and benefiting from it? Does globalisation create magnanimous and authentic human beings or global-scale greedy consumers, fed by processed food?
A Brief History OfGlobalisation
Globalisation is globally growing, and claims to universality in an absolute manner. So what is globalisation? One very simplified version is that “when all the people in the world will wear Levi’s jeans and Reebok shoes, eat McDonald burgers and drink Coca Cola.”
Now let us listen to T.K.Oommen, “ Globalization as a historical process is at least five centuries old and structural adjustment is only the latest dimension of the ongoing process of globalization …the first phase ( of globalization ) started with the geographical exploration of the 16th century which was the precursor of colonalisation. Vasco de Gama, Columbus and Captain Cook were the founding fathers of the New World, which was a cultural transplant of the Old World…The second phase of globalization was marked by the emergence of the two worlds – Capitalist democracies and Socialist one party system…the third state of globalization started with the fall of the Command Economies and consequent weakening of the welfare state, featured by the emerging hegemony of the market.” And he continues, “the new phase labelled as the new economic policy or structural adjustment programme, is essentially a search for the market by the first world (a) to sustain its lifestyle and (b) two imposethis lifestyle on the bulging middle classes in the third world.”
There is a growing need for a globalisationthat is defined and shaped by the poor and the marginalised.It is a globalisation that has the widest possible outlook on its service to whole humanity, and not just a rich minority, a global mechanism that is in the process of overcoming its injustices, biases, prejudices, crimes and negligences.Globalisation must be intrinsically purified to serve whole humanity not just some rich nations and social classes.
As ZiauddinSardar has convincingly argued, “The greatest event of the 20th century, outstripping even its horrors – two world wars, mass, mechanised slaughter, the imminence of Armageddon, holocaust and ethnic cleansing – was the invention of the mass market for consumer goods; the apotheosis of the Industrial Revolution. Desiring the accoutrements of a lavish lifestyle is probably a primordial urge, but only in the 20th century did it become a practical proposition for large parts of a whole society….The economic disparities of our world are grosser now than ever before in history. Never, since the day the originalhomo sapiens first stood on two legs, have so few consumed and controlled so much. The richest 20 per cent of the world’s people, that’s us and our like, now consume 86 per cent of all goods and services, 45 per cent of all the meat and fish, 58 per cent of all the energy, 84 per cent of all the paper and 87 per cent of all the vehicles.”
DemocratisationAnd Economic Justice
Globalisation must be a form of democracy extended over the whole globe without any coercion. It is a democratically defined and generated globalisation process. Democracy and globalisation should be intimately interlinked and interconnected. One cannot, in the long run, survive and sustain itself without the other. This is to promote a globalisastion based on economic justice. Democracy must not be allowed to be used as an instrument of globalisation. The process of globalisation need be subordinated to the process of democracy for Globalisation is the handmaid of democracy. If not it leads to marginalisation of some communities and is not capable of generating justice to all.
Economics is about genuinely caring for people’s material needs through just and fair distribution of earth’s limited resources and therefore is inherently spiritual. Economics is another name for care giving. The quality of human life does not depend on the quality of profit-making. Wherever there is a human community, there is an economic activity. That is why economics is such a central thing to human living .A crisis in economy is a crisis in community. The overall challenge is to create an economic system that does not produce victims.
There are no convincing evidences to show that capitalism has always served humanity well and what we have acutely witnessed during last few decades is increasingly growing helpless victims of global capitalism. If some nations and people get enormously rich at the expense of some other nations and peoples, then such a system which allows such disparity is intrinsically, genetically and inherently evil, immoral and inhuman. If some people’s lifestyles and consumption patterns continue to create untold sufferings and miseries for some other people, then this predicament is the most pernicious thing in the world. Exploitation, insensitivity, oppression selfishness, cunning and manipulation can never be the foundation of and inspiration for any viable and decent economic system, since these are crimes against humanity.
Globalatry And False Gods
Globalisation has also absolutised different gods: be they golf courses, internet, computer, E-mail, Coca Cola, McDonalds and KFC. These are the modern day Baals many people worship day and night. Electronic media disseminate information but never truth. Truth cannot be communicated as information for truth is not an information. Dissemination of information has nothing to do with serious search for truth. Globalisation is a gnostic corruption of true human progress.True progress occurs when people become ever attentive, intelligent, reasonable and responsible. There is no shortcut to social progress for it cannot be forced upon a people. True social progress is a natural fruit of a people’s creativity and originality.
Such was precisely the evil committed by the former Soviet Union and Eastern European communist countries. It created, in spite of massive propaganda, countless human victims and untold human miseries. Soviet Communism must have been defeated and destroyed a long time ago while giving birth to a more humane political and economic system. It is a tragedy that it took such a long time for its destruction and demise and in the end mafia capitalism replaced it.
Christian faith cannot endorse uncritically and wholeheartedly any economic or political system but must labour daily to transform and transcendall existing systems. The Reign of God cannot be identified with or reduced to the process of globalisation. The Reign of God is infinitely much greater, nobler, mightier, more majestic, grand and global than globalisation. When some Christians wholeheartedly, naively and immediately embrace, endorse and justify globalisation, they are knowingly or unknowingly betraying the Christians faith. It is the globalatry, not God that they worship.Globalatry is a manifestation of daemonolatrythrough and through and only a collaborator with it doubts it seriously.Globalisation licenses lies. Globalisation is packaging, packeting, wrapping, canning, advertising, marketing and then selling death. It feeds on human cadavers for its continual survival.
Under globalisation religion is only allowed to function as long as it is not a threat to it. Christianity has become an advertisement amongst other advertisements.Computerised Christianity is a betrayal of gospel message. Televised masses, broadcast-prayer sessions, public healing sesstions contribute nothing significant to the evangelisation process. Gospel message does not need propaganda. What is needed is witnessing. Only those who do not witness to it propagate it. Propagandists are puppets but not prophets. What is at work in them is not gospel values but market (dis)values.
The Cost Of Faith And The Good Life
Whatever promotes and endorses oppression, exploitation, poverty, inequality, discrimination and environmental destruction does not stem from God, for God is a God of justices, mercy, compassion, beauty, truth, love, forgiveness, harmony, fairness and clemency and any economic system that does not respect these kingdom values cannot come from God or may not have the approval of God. Unrestrained capitalism is the greatest enemy of God’s reign. Globalisation does not bring about the reign of God. In actual fact, it has become a great stumbling block and a competitor to the spread of the reign of God.
Simply because some Christians do benefit from it does not make it legitimate or moral. Personal benefit and profit are not the only criteria for its legitimisation and justification. Human greed, craving and selfishness have serious economic, ecological and ethical limits. Human beings are not pleasure-maximisingor profit-maximising animals. Globalisation ought not to be a project of human greed, selfishness, acquisitive instincts and avarice. Defenders of globalisationdo not seem to have understood this and their arguments appear to be glib, shallow and superficial.
The spirit of God is at work whenever and wherever human beings cooperate, forgive, show mercy, compassion, harmony, clemency and promote justice at all levels but not in competitions, rivalry, greed, hegemony, profit-making, exploitation and oppression.
Under globalisation making money, regardless of the human and ecological cost, has become the supreme virtue and ultimate value. As long as money is made, it does not matter how it is made. Making a maximum profit justifies the means. Money has become the all encompassing human vocation and preoccupation, but not the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Moses and of Jesus. The triumpof globalisation is the death of Christianity (or any other religious tradition for that matter) and any moral sensibility. The perpetuation of global capitalism is the end of the whole globe.
Globalisation is capitalism stretched forcefully and violently across the globe in global proportion. It eats up the globe like a gigantic predator and feeds on the natural resources endlessly. Globalisation is universalisationof mass consumerism and endless hoarding.Consumerism has become a growing global phenomenon and the dominant ideology. Whoever challenges this globally growing ideology is considered an enemy of economic development.
Credibility And True Consolation
Christian faith promotes, encourages and advocates economic justice. Faith and justice are two sides of the same coin. Any faith that is aloof, indifferent and insensitive to social justice and peace cannot certainly be Christian. Faith is at the service of life. Faith enhances the meaning of life. The deeper our faith in God, the greater ought to be our commitment to social justice. Now lack of faith in God is the beginning of social injustice, oppression, inequality and exploitation.
To grow in faith is equally to grow in social involvement. One cannot deepen or purify one’s faith without costly social engagement or sacrificial love. Faith judges cultural values, economic systems and political structures. Nothing escapes faith. Faith need, without unnecessary delay, respond to whatever affects human and planetary existence. One of the most profound challenges to Christian faith today is the process of globalisation and arguably it is the challenge par excellence of contemporary times.
Faith is our inherent capacity to respond to all kinds of crises, be they political, economic, cultural, social, religious, personal or ecological. Faith interrupts, asks disturbing questions and probes deeper.. Faith brings clarity to life.
Faith keeps the vision of God’s reign alive in our midst. Without faith one cannot labour towards the reign of God. Faith questions whatever hinders the spread of God’s reign. Christian faith has concrete historical consequences. Faith asks something of us concretely. Faith is never politically or economically neutral. There is value judgment in faith. Faith is never indifferent to human suffering. Faith always seeks and desires the greater good for all. Faith interrupts and challenges the status quo and demands greater credibility from it. Judgments born out of faith is the most accurate and objective because it does not serve any political ideologies but challenges them all on behalf of God’s poor. God does not desire suffering for the innocent. God wants to abolish all kinds of suffering. Faith exposes ruthless and mercilessly the nakedness of every economic ideology for what it really is.
Every ideology tends to hide and justify oppression and exploitation and legitimise the status quo. In the sense faith is both a great asker and a seeker. Faithless life is an aimless life. The depth of one’s faith is the depth of one’s commitment to life. Faith is sustained Christian praxis. The vision of faith is the most comprehensive vision for it harbours no ideological agenda or follows no party line. Neither does it put its trust in an oppressive economic system but only in Gods.
To be Christian is to be misunderstood and marginalised. But this is not a sad news for our faith consoles us. True consolation comes from faith and true church renewal always comes from the margin, never from the centre.
Christians are called to be agents of ongoing change not brokers of power. Since most people do not really believe in God, they gave birth to market capitalism. If we truly and existentially believe in God, there is no need to accumulate wealth anxiously and obscenely. Only an atheist would have created an economic system like capitalism. Capitalism is the idolatry par excellence hitherto unknown in human history in an unprecedented proportion.Even the dead will not be safe if capitalism prevails. Capitalism is greed organised into principalities. Unlimited economic growth is a male illusion. Our natural resources are too limited to sustain economic globalisation and unlimited growth. What is needed is to shrink markets back to small and local proportions. With the fascination of globalisation, ecological debate is dying a natural death: it has been marginalised tactically.
A Christian can never support an economic system that does not favour the poor. AChristian is a disturber of the status quo. Solidarity with the victims of globalisation is not an activity amongst other activities. It must be the activity par excellence. It need become a life style. It is a call to become not once-in-a-while prophets but professional prophets: everyday prophets.God cannot be kicked out of globalisation process for God is atwork in it taking the side of its victims.
In the end, the grand question Jesus is going to ask about it is this, “What has globalisation done to the least of my brothers and sisters.” And what is going to be our answer to that? Everything else will depend on our answer.
To continue our prophetic mission as a teacher, communicator and protester with the hope of establishing freedom and transforming our world into a loving society based on liberation spirituality.