A 2001 Chomsky/US financial prediction for the world

I was reading a speech by Noam Chomsky delivered in the World Social Forum in 2001, and there was a remarkably prescient insight about globalization and inequality. Referring to the “anti-globalization” label used to marginalize protest groups, Chomsky compares two types of globalization:

  • globalization in terms of movement of people, free labor across borders, integration of culture, cooperation between peoples, etc,
  • globalization in terms of capital movements, investor rights, financial services, etc

These two types of globalization are not concordant, may oppose each other, and have different effects and consequences.

Chomsky goes on to say that “no sane person is anti-globalization [of the first type]”. However this first type of globalization shows little sign of recent progress (on the contrary) while the second type is accelerating. And the are, as Chomsky points out, predictable consequences:

US intelligence agencies, with the participation of specialists from the academic professions and the private sector, recently released a report on expectations for 2015. They expect “globalization” to proceed on course: “Its evolution will be rocky, marked by chronic financial volatility and a widening economic divide.” That means less convergence, less globalization in the technical sense [of people and labor], but more globalization in the doctrinally preferred sense [of financial services and capital]. Financial volatility implies still slower growth and more crises and poverty.

Therefore, even in 2001 US intelligence agencies had already predicted the consequences of the second kind of globalization: “chronic financial volatility and a widening economic divide” with the predicable added consequences of “slower growth and more crises and poverty”. They, and Chomsky, were right. And it happened a few years earlier than they predicted (for 2015) – I assume this was seen by some, namely the financial sector who benefited, as a success. But not for the rest of us.

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