Friday, December 11, 2009

Neoliberal Globalization and Cosmopolitan Democracy Blog

Patomaki and Teivainen’s “Critical response to neoliberal globalization in the Mercosur region: roads towards cosmopolitan democracy?” begins by describing cosmopolitan democracy as realizing a political community that is more conducive to democratic goals that are based in globalization. The authors then recognize that cosmopolitan democracy has previously been seen in a Eurocentric light which is detached from numerous other historical occurrences. Next, they define globalization as “the belief in the oneness of the world and humankind” (41). Transnational neoliberalism is said to have a direct correlation with globalization because it assumes that the world has achieved, or will eventually achieve if rational policies are followed, economic unity due to economic globalization. This growth can best be gained through “free” international trade, reasonable budgets, low inflation, privatization, the economization of social life, and deregulated markets, assuming those trying to achieve it have transnational mobility. Patomaki and Teivainen then state that even if the majority of people want to disregard property rights, the government must go against this in order to further free market capitalism, which is what led to most of the instances of despotism in Latin America. This led to the strengthening of the economic elite in those countries, which caused more of a disparity in the distribution of wealth. However, globalization has also led to boundaries in Latin America being considered more along the lines of public spaces instead of state borders. Therefore, at the same time that Latin American nations are struggling against globalization, they are also increasing in their “cosmopolitan attempts to participate in world politics” (47). Transnational organizations were created, which adds to the authors’ argument that Mercosur does not prevent further democratization. Some people are worried that regional concerns could soon supersede national ones, but others view this as a natural adjunct to globalization. The EU has no problem with it since it is encouraging trans-regionalism. Patomaki and Teivainen thus conclude that globalization constrains some political possibilities while opening up others, including the possibility of a model based on the EU to help integrate toward cosmopolitan democracy, which causes them to believe that the Mercosur region is moving toward transnational and global democracy.

I found it most interesting that globalization is beginning to achieve what was simply reality. As we discussed earlier in this course, the idea of a nation being based on a common language and eventually ideology did not come into play until a fair amount of time had passed. Patomaki and Teivainen assert in the article that globalization has collapsed distance and reorganized social spaces and practices, which has led to the creation of “states” that transcend geographical and political boundaries. This sounds to me like the world is resuming its original format, which I find intriguing.

I would have found it interesting if Patomaki and Teivainen would have elaborated more on the relationship between despotism in Latin America and capitalism. They explain that despotism in Latin American countries often came about as a result of a push for capitalism, but they do not explain other methods that could have been pursued. They assert that the Latin American governments ignored the demand from a majority of the citizens to regulate property rights because that would have theoretically hurt the general welfare. So instead of following what the people wanted, the governments decided that in order “to gain free market capitalism, the demands of those opposed, including the victims of recession, unemployment, and all types of physical and moral pains, must be ignored” (44). Do you think that this was the best course to follow? Should there not be a course in which the current welfare is not disregarded in favor of the future?

1 comment:

  1. I think your question raises an interesting point. Globalization is so often seen through the eyes of states and the wealthy, often, if not always, ignoring the poor. Wealth can be built on the backs of the poor, and it usually is, but without proper social progress, the state and the wealthy will crush the poor. We need to balance the desire of the wealthy to gain more money with the workers' need for social justice.