Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Friedman's Upside Down World

Thomas Friedman, as you may unfortunately recall, is an opinion pundit for The New York Times and a major cheerleader for transnational capitalism. We've pointed out before why his widely reviewed book, The World is Flat is a work of almost malicious stupidity. Not surprisingly, he has not grasped such obvious criticisms of his views about the flat world of a global free market as progressive salvation. The essential error of his view is not that he describes the emerging flat world of global free exploitation, but rather that he prescribes this as the next Good News. He continues to publish this gospel of his toxic confusionism as the voice of capitalist common sense in The New York Times.

Let's look at a key example of Friedman's flat confusionism:

The fact that a top German politician has resorted to
attacking capitalism to win votes tells you just how
explosive the next decade in Western Europe could be,
as some of these aging, inflexible economies -- which
have grown used to six-week vacations and unemployment
insurance that is almost as good as having a job --
become more intimately integrated with Eastern Europe,
India and China in a flattening world.

To appreciate just how explosive, come to Bangalore,
India, the outsourcing capital of the world. The dirty
little secret is that India is taking work from Europe
or America not simply because of low wages. It is also
because Indians are ready to work harder and can do
anything from answering your phone to designing your
next airplane or car. They are not racing us to the
bottom. They are racing us to the top.

Indeed, there is a huge famine breaking out all over
India today, an incredible hunger. But it is not for
food. It is a hunger for opportunity that has been
pent up like volcanic lava under four decades of
socialism, and it's now just bursting out with India's
young generation.
[excerpt from Thomas Friedman's column in theNY Times, June 3, 2005. Thanks to C.B. for sending this in.]

Friedman has a flat mind, so well suited for a wannabee ideologue. Yet, his worldview is not so much "flat" as it is upside down:
Germany's advanced economy which (nevertheless! ah, subtle dialectics) affords leisure time, quality of life, and basic social services like education, health, retirement, and insurance -- this country Friedman views as a serious problem for some fetish idolatry called the "Economy"! On top of that, his inverted view must then place the suddenly superior and enviable country of India. Does he somehow bracket out and set aside India's poverty, unemployment, and lack of social services? No! These are included in his upside down view.
Capitalist progress means that Germany must become more like India. This is his flipped view of a "race to the top", a view which if we then turn his upside down world back the rightside up, is more reasonably called the "race to the bottom", a.k.a., one the most damning and critical problems for any cheerleader of globalized capitalism.

German quality of life must be overcome if we are to have economic progress, he insists. How so? By turning Germany into another India, where workers are "hungry" as he put it, desperate to do anything in order to survive, working longer and harder amidst surroundings thoroughly polluted by the byproducts of production, working without expectation of health care or retirement or the kids' education or even for a minimum wage.

This coming progress for the Economy is Friedman's capitalist Eden, wherein the European Adam & Eve, no longer fallen socialists, are now free from society -- that is to say, from community, communication, and the commons -- as free agents, temp workers responsible for their own education, medicine, and retirement, now fully privatized. This new ownership paradise in which the new Adam & Eve are given dominion over all others (and so in turn all other creatures are likewise given free reign to compete for dominion over them too) is in Friedman's view clearly heralded forth as the coming dawn of a flat world of Indias. Germany as India. France as India. England as India. America as India, etc, etc, etc.

The phase of the class war that is happening now shows that this view is no mere prophecy, ravings of a deluded Economic saint. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy, fully underway. This gospel is being forced on us by every means available: altering and eliminating legal protections; deregulating sectors of the economy; privatizing the commons -- now including water and soon enough, air too; taxing the poor to subsidize corporations; censoring, spying on, and slandering critics; planting propaganda in the media; and covertly undermining nations that aren't playing the new game, i.e., Venezuela. Instead this war is sponsoring the Friedmans of the flat world.

This, too, is your brain gone flat: a world upside down.


At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

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