The Effects of American Globalism
Today, every child in the United States is taught the pledge of allegiance by the first grade. It is engrained in their minds the United States is a place of opportunity founded on high ideals and principles of freedom, liberty, and justice. Their country revolutionized the global political sphere when focusing on the people’s voice in its constitution. U. S. history textbooks and the mass media promote the expansion of the American Dream, the spread of American ideals globally. But this one-dimensional historical account of United States history disservices Americans.
We do not realize how American influence is received. Is the United States a superhero or really the world’s supervillain? American globalization is not just economic growth and world influence; the whole picture shows the U. S. as a dominant, manipulative global power with hidden agendas, masked by good intentions. Retrospectively, the American population will see their history of globalization as a bringer of impermanent prosperity. Globalism has become an economic game the United States has mastered and masked from the mass populous as cheap products and foreign aid as missionary work when reality illustrates the extremely negative consequences of the American globalism effect on the countries the U.S. claims to be helping.
Globalization, then Versus now
Globalization is not a new topic. It has its start in the 15th and 16th centuries with the launching of European colonization. In the 1890’s, businessman and British politician Cecil Rhodes advocated for colonization as finding “‘new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labor that is available from the natives of the colonies’” (Ellwood, 2010). This early mindset of today’s globalization trend sets the foundation of its history. Europe’s colonial era was characterized by the mentality of finding new land, resources, and goods to be traded cheaply so the economy would prosper and the country could establish greater power. That is exactly what they did. Europeans controlled territories in North America, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia exporting raw materials globally and reaping a majority of the profits. A University of Zurich resource argues “most of the colonial surplus was extracted by the metropolitan countries (in the form of interest payments on loans, repatriated profits, salaries and pensions) and this, by reducing the indigenous capital accumulation process, had a negative effect on the colonies’ growth prospects” (2016). History has shown European colonization to be exploitative and unethical in its practices leading to economic and social hindrances on the oppressed.
But during the time colonizing was a mission of civilizing (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2017). This ideology rationalized the intervention of Western culture on indigenous people encountered through global exploration. What historically is seen as unethical on the part of European countries, was considered a righteous endeavor. Today, globalism is defined differently. Most talk about globalism stems from the economic component, “expanding international trade in goods and services based on the concept of ‘comparative advantage. ’” The theory of comparative advantage goes back to influential British economist David Ricardo in 1817. He claims the maintenance of two conditions, balanced trade between partners and locally anchored investment capital, create an ideal environment for globalism (Ellwood, 2010). But the United States has ignored these principles for a imperialistic approach. The U. S. exercises its controlling power over other countries through indirect mechanisms discussed later.
The United States to Us
The American perspective of globalization is well illustrated by Walmart. The affordability of clothes, food, and other goods at Walmart attracts roughly 270 million consumers weekly (Statista, 2017). For clothing, most tops and t-shirts for women remain under 10 dollars. But what most customers do not look for are the products’ country of origin. On the Walmart website for women shirts, products originate from Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, and India. Sometimes the product does not specify the country of origin and denotes the product as ‘imported. ’ Shoppers in the United States see affordability, not the story behind the shirt they just bought. On November 24th, 2012, the Tazreen factory in Bangladesh caught fire killing 117 and injuring 200 others. In a documentary by the Rainbow Collective, an acclaimed documentary makers, about female garment workers in Bangladesh entitled UDITA (Arise), a woman recounts the occasions of that day. We were too busy making clothes for Walmart to realize the fire had started… The fire alarm doesn’t work so one of the workers had to set it off. . . We found the gate but it had been locked to stop us leaving. Finally we escaped by breaking the windows in the men’s sampling room and jumping out. We were making clothes for Walmart. All we ask is that they care about us and stand up for us. The International Labor Rights Forum, a human rights organization focused on justice for workers globally, reported in 2015 Walmart still refused to compensate survivors and victims of the Tazreen fire despite the company’s contributions to other funds and anti-poverty solutions like BRAC, formerly the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee and Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee (ILRF, 2015). Instances like this one are not uncommon.
There are many others instances of sweatshop disasters like Rana Plaza building collapse or the Kader Toy Factory fire. Common themes occur like abusive supervisors, horrendous working conditions, and unbelievably unfair wages. It comes down to severe violations of human rights resulting from globalization fueled by American consumerism. For the low cost of $10. 00, you can by a “Love Scribble Short Sleeve Graphic Tee” from the EV1 clothing line by Ellen DeGeneres made in Bangladesh.
The United States to Them
In their critically acclaimed study and book of classrooms worldwide, Dana Lindaman and Kyle Ward write, “‘despite all the opportunities we’re given to learn about other cultures and societies, we still understand relatively little about the rest of the world and how they view us’” (Healy, 2006). American history textbooks lack a holistic perspective of the United States that reflects an accurate image of its global impact. These texts look at history only through the lens of Americans and do not explore the complex implications of the country’s actions in depth. Teachers themselves must create conversation about the morality behind the United States’ decisions and how it has changed the world today. But guaranteeing every student has experienced this debate of the U. S. ’s morality is impossible. Moreover, the American population cannot fully comprehend how they are viewed globally without this conversation. There needs to be more transparency to the United States’ historic and current actions. In his personal account supported by various documentation, John Perkins exposes the U. S. for its true source of power and wealth: manipulation. He illuminates the unethical and scheming nature of our country’s ascent to global domination it has worked tirelessly to conceal from the public. His words question readers’ belief in the United States’ savior of the world façade. Economic hit men (EHM) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from… foreign “aid” organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families. . . Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization… My job… was ‘to encourage world leaders to become part of a vast network that promotes U. S. commercial interests. In the end, those leaders become ensnared in a web of dept that ensures their loyalty. ’”Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004), reveals true encounters of the U. S. corporatocracy gaining control over countries in their empire through his recount of his occupation as an EHM. The shocking reality is most United States Americans do not realize their country’s maltreatment of the world’s underprivileged. Reality portrays the U. S. much more negatively than our history textbooks. There are many countries who have experienced envelopment into the American empire. Stories from Guatemala, Venezuela, Honduras, Nicaragua, and many more illuminate the United States’ agenda to expand its empire rather than provide genuine foreign aid.
Globalization in America
Immigrants are stereotyped as job stealers. According to scholar Richard C. Longworth, he claims they “raise taxes by demanding services from schools, hospitals, and welfare agencies” while others argue “immigrants pay far more into the tax system than they take out” (Longworth, 2007). What we do not realize is that immigration is in part caused by our own globalization efforts and benefits our economies. From Pulitzer Prize winning author, Sonia Nazario, comes a national bestseller entitled Enrique’s Journey: The story of a boy’s dangerous odyssey to reunite with his mother. This is a true story Nazario tells from her journey retracing an eleven year old’s path from Honduras to his mother in the United States. Enrique, the boy this account revolves around, is one of hundreds of immigrants from Central America who attempt to cross the Mexico-United States border. He traveled hundreds of miles to reunite with his mother who works in the U. S. because she must support her impoverished family. What is not detailed in the narrative is the economic atmosphere of Honduras that forces Enrique’s mother to leave. The Honduran economy is dependent on their banana and coffee exports with U. S. aid and U. S. fruit companies control the country. According to distinguished university professor Walter LaFeber, “the country has mostly been ruled by military officers trained and equipped by the United States” (LaFeber, 1993). The extreme dependency on the U. S. has created an impoverished country forcing some to find work elsewhere and send money home. Thus immigration to the United States is inevitable because of the high demand for a labor force to fill unwanted jobs.
John Perkins puts it well saying, “I am certain that when enough of us become aware of how we are being exploited by the economic engine that creates an insatiable appetite for the world’s resources, and results in systems that foster slavery, we will no longer tolerate it” (Perkins, 2004). We, as the mass populous, must educate ourselves about the injustices our nation has created worldwide. Globalization can be an amazing process of international success that reaches everyone regardless of socioeconomic status or position. But the United States must be the first to realize, our global impact should not be solely focused on our personal economic benefit. If the true ideals of globalism were achieved, true comparative advantages would emerge so countries could sustain themselves and everyone benefits. Our history is much darker than what our nation’s leaders want us to know. The age of the American empire is coming to a close and our time to end the story positively is running out.
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