project WORLDVIEW worldview theme info         copyright 2009                Home         

Related Words, Beliefs, Background

Worldview Theme #51: 

                   Ethical Globalization

alphabetical listing: A to K 

  alphabetical listing, continued: L to Z
Contrast Worldview Themes #51 and #22B --these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!        

anti-corporate movement--beginning over a century ago, this movement spurted during the 1960s / 70s, slackened, then caught fire in the last two decades--driven by concerns over globalization,.  In his 2007 book, The Rise of the Anti-Corporate Movement, Evan Osborne referred to it as "increasingly influential in politics in the United States and Europe".  Believing that multi-national corporations aim to control the world and maximize their profits in doing so, anti-corporate activists seek to rein in corporate power--although they differ in their prescriptions for doing this. Some defenders of these engines for economic growth, jobs, technological innovations, etc. charge that some critics are naive and caught up in anti-corporate conspiracism.  Osborne is troubled by how "activists ignore the idea that politics is a messy compromise among all sides and slide into the belief in one all-powerful faction pulling the strings." In critiquing such books as the 2001 bestseller When Corporations Rule the World, by David Korten, he disputes the notion that corporate power is "a coherent sinister force. "

appropriate (or soft) technology--technology selected, designed and implemented with the special environmental, cultural, social and economic aspects of the community it is intended for in mind. It typically has little or no significant environmental impact and is well suited to an area since it makes use of what is relatively abundant--for example, labor in places where people need jobs. Typically it involves devices that are small, relatively simple, inexpensive, decentralized, and that can preserve meaningful experiences or work for people. In contrast high or hard technology typically has much greater environmental impact, tends to replace people with machines, and can involve more technological complexity, equipment capital outlay, etc. Example: Using lots of workers with hand tools to control unwanted brush and growth in a forest -- so that young trees can get more sun and grow better -- would be an appropriate technology solution; using one person flying over a forest in a helicopter spraying a chemical herbicide to kill unwanted growth would be a hard technology way of accomplishing the same thing.

basic human needs approach--a strategy which directs development assistance to the poorest people in an effort to meet their needs for food, clean water, shelter, clothing, health care and education.  

biopiracy–ripping off natural resources or traditional knowledge from indigenous people.

capital -- an economics term referring to accumulated goods and resources (or their value) devoted to the production of other goods or set aside to produce income. Capital can take the form of money, raw materials, buildings, equipment, inventories, etc. While economists have long distinguished between “physical capital” and “human capital”, some have recently extended this scheme to include “natural capital”.

capitalism -- an economic system involving 1) private individual or corporate ownership of capital goods, 2) private rather than state control of investment , and 3) pricing, production and distribution of goods (for the most part) by agents or forces operating within the free market system.

child labor--the use of under aged children for work in factories, mines, farms, armies, as prostitutes, etc. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, children should be "protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development."

colonialism--the policy or practice of a nation extending or maintaining its control over a foreign land or people. This control is typically enforced militarily, and often results in the economic and / or cultural domination of the subject people.  Such practice, rooted in ethnocentrism and sometimes racism, is one form that imperialism takes. 

common good, the--can be defined in various ways depending on one's perspective. Some define it narrowly as that which is good for every member of the community; others broaden the community here to include all human beings. While libertarians argue it is a meaningless concept, utilitarians equate it with "the greatest good for the greatest  number of individuals."

comparative advantage -- according to this, a nation should produce and export goods that it can produce at relatively lower costs than other nations 

corporate welfare--refers to government support--what critics might call "handouts"--provided to private corporations in the form of subsidies, tax breaks / credits, and laws / benefits / exemptions by which private sector businesses in some way use the public sector (taxpayer dollars, public land, etc.) to their advantage.

cultural imperialism--the rapid spread of one culture to the detriment of another. Often a politically / economically dominant culture is imposed by newcomers--weakening or destroying the existing culture.  

customs--the whole body of long-established usages, practices, traditions, rituals, and ways of behaving that have been passed on from one generation to the next.  As unwritten laws they can regulate social life. Sometimes they are turned into laws. 

development -- the process of improving the quality of human life, especially in poor countries. Besides targeting raising people’s standard of living, increasing their freedom (in terms of choices available to them) and creating conditions allowing for the growth of their self esteem are major development goals.

distributive justice--is concerned with right or just ways to allocate the goods, benefits and burdens of economic activity to members of society. Plans for doing this vary according to 1) what is to be distributed: wealth, income, utility, opportunity, welfare, etc; 2) over what group is the distribution to be made; 3) how is the distribution to be made.   

environmental impact analysis -- a procedure for 1) collecting information about the proposed development, project or land use and its goals / objectives, 2) identifying possible impacts of its implementation in various areas (mainly environmental, but depending upon the scale of the project also perhaps cultural, economic, social, political, etc), 3) assessing impacts and identifying tradeoffs, 4) formulating, then examining other alternatives to the proposed development, with quantitative models and forecasts, 5) making recommendations including designating a preferred alternative that best meets goals / objectives while minimizing impacts / other concerns , and 6) making plans for monitoring performance. Legislation may require that this be done before certain projects can be carried out on government land.

ethical behavior evolutionary pyramid -- the depiction of how human ethical behavior has evolved over a long period of time (over one million years) using a pyramid. When people were little more than animals their behavior was dictated by self interest in meeting basic biological and survival needs -- depicted at the broad base of the pyramid. Amongst pre-civilization humans ethical behavior extended to include family and biological relatives. As culture developed and survival pressures eased, ethical behavior was extended greatly-- moving up the pyramid -- to eventually include community, tribe, regional neighbors, ethnic group, and nation. Today, at the top of the pyramid are those who feel a sense of belongingness to the whole human species and to the planet , and behave accordingly.

ethical (or moral) relativism -- the belief that ethical guidelines or moral rules cannot be evaluated outside of the particular cultural / ethical setting to which they belong. It holds that there are no absolute or universal standards of what is ethically or morally right or wrong.  Fundamentalists abhor ethical relativism. For them, the word of God as recorded in sacred religious texts provides not only rules to live by, but an absolute authority on moral questions. 

ethics -- the study of right and wrong in matters of conduct

ethnocentrism -- adopting the social standards of one’s own culture or ethnic group as the basis for evaluating the social practices, customs, beliefs, etc. of another culture -- and doing so because you believe your society’s values and way of living are superior to those of other cultures.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)--a United Nations agency that works with developing countries in an effort to 1) raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, 2) improve production and distribution of food and agricultural products, and 3) promote rural development. One FAO program--The Special Programme for Food Security--seeks to cut the number of the world's hunger (food insecure) people (currently estimated to number 852 million) in half by 2015.

free trade -- exists when goods can be exported and imported without tariffs, quotas or other restrictive barriers. Supposedly free trade promotes economic growth by encouraging nations to engage in economic activities in which they have comparative advantage. 

global competitiveness index--a measure of how well a nation's economy is positioned with respect to its own economic efficiency / productivity and its ability to attract foreign investment / company infrastructure.  Typically based on over hundred different factors, the index is computed annually for over hundred countries by the World Economic Forum after surveying thousands of business executives worldwide.

globalization -- one of those terms that means different things to different people.  Here the term is defined as the acceleration of interaction and integration amongst the people, businesses and governments of nations. A narrower  definition, the expansion of foreign trade and investment, refers to economic aspects of globalization.  Some build their conception of globalization around the creation of a global village brought about by advances in communications technology and capital that seemingly moves without respect for international boundaries.  Others link it to hot button terms like Americanization, corporate  capitalism, McDonaldization,  free trade, outsourcing, sweatshops, the Internet Revolution, etc.           

human capital -- investment made in people, including improving their productive capabilities and health due to investments in job training, education or medical care

human rights--are defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as "the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law." Some equate human rights with natural rights--notably expounded upon by English philosopher John Locke whose thinking inspired the American founding fathers. These rights are said to be "inalienable" and beyond the authority of government or society to trample. The outrageous human rights violations of the World War II era are often cited as inspiring the founding of the United Nations in 1945.  In its charter, the UN asks all member nations to promote "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights."

immigration issues -- Relatively high paying jobs in developed countries attract workers from less developed countries. So workers migrate -- both legally and illegally. In recent years, many of those who migrate legally are highly educated and skilled -- the very workers that poor countries can ill afford to lose. The great majority of these migrants move permanently and thus constitute a brain drain on the less developed countries. Illegal immigrants generally are not so skilled and tend to fit into jobs that natives find unattractive -- as agricultural laborers, construction workers, in food processing plants, as motel maids, groundskeepers, etc. They provide a huge source of labor -- one survey put this pool at 5% of the total U.S. workforce -- typically at the bottom of the wage scale. Despite their demonstrated role in western economies, many perceive these illegal workers as taking jobs away from poor, unskilled native workers. And many complain about the benefits illegal immigrants receive in the form of free local health care, education, social services, etc -- although the taxes paid by these workers adds up to a substantial amount (a recent U.S. survey put their annual social security payments at $50 billion!). Complicating the movement of people across international borders are security / terrorism concerns.

imperialism, non-Marxist --the belief that governments or corporations extending their power and influence over people (either economically, culturally or both) is fundamentally good.  The belief may rest on the assumption that, given the economic / cultural backwardness of the people affected, such domination will bring positive developments for all.  This way of thinking about imperialism attempts to free it of the negative connotations / baggage heaped on the term by Marxist criticisms of the failings of capitalism.

indigenous people--in 2004 the United Nations provided the following definition: "Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system."   

International Monetary Fund (IMF)-- an organization founded in 1944 whose primary purpose is to provide regulation of the international monetary exchange system

justice -- implementing what is just, defined in various ways as being reasonable, proper, lawful, right, fair, deserved, merited, etc. For some, justice is intimately connected with fairness, a connection with three dimensions: equal treatment, the degree to which exercising freedom and liberty is to be allowed, and reward for contributing to the common good .

  McDonaldization -- refers to the spread of American economic and cultural life around the world as multinational corporations (as exemplified by McDonald's) expand their operations in the quest for profits. 

microcredit -- a scheme in which very small loans are made to very poor people who have no collateral. The loans are typically made to boost income generating economic endeavors, and surprisingly they have been repaid with a very low history of nonpayment.  The Grameen Bank in Bangladesh pioneered this type of lending in the mid 1970s.

monopoly -- a situation in a market economy when but a single seller exists for a commodity that has no realistic substitute

non-aggression principle--the idea, as expressed by Ayn Rand, that coercive physical force or the threat of such use against person or property should never be used first, and that its only legitimate use is for defensive purposes by individuals or by governments to punish law-breakers.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)–an agreement between the USA, Canada, and Mexico reached in 1993 that generally liberalizes trade policies in an effort to increase competitiveness and wealth.

offshoring–involves a company moving its factory from a high wage affluent country to a low wage developing country—producing the same products with cheaper labor, lower taxes, less regulation, etc. 

outsourcing -- the business practice of contracting with labor, producers or suppliers in another country to provide some product or service that otherwise could be provided (though most likely at higher cost) by the own country's economy. 

population growth concerns -- Reportedly since the days of the Babylonians in 1600 BC.--when the human population was around 35 million-- people have worried about the possibility of a growing population exceeding the capability to feed people. Typically the former grows exponentially (1, 2, 4, 8, etc) while the latter increases but arithmetically (1,2,3,4, etc) -- as Thomas Malthus pointed out in 1798. A few years later in 1804 the human population reached one billion; by 1927 it had doubled to two billion. The doubling time of 123 years is consistent with an average annual growth rate of around 0.6 % per year. The next doubling to four billion took roughly 47 years, consistent with an average annual growth rate of around 1.5 % per year. The growth rate peaked around 1970 at 2.1 % per year. By 2005 it had fallen to 1.2 % per year, and the human population stood at 6.5 billion people. If that growth rate continues, by 2050 there will be 11.7 billion people; if the growth rate continues to fall, as projected, by 2050 there will be 9.1 billion people. How many people can the planet support? Answers vary. Many environmentalists feel that the current population is excessive and that human activities are altering the global climate and causing dangerous disruptions of natural cycles. Currently enough grain is grown to feed 10 billion people a vegetarian diet.   

population and family planning--refers to efforts to limit the number of children in a family.  The goal of such planning is to insure that all children born 1) are truly wanted, and 2) can be adequately supported and raised to adulthood given the resources available. While implemented at the individual family level, policies can be formulated at the national government level. This has most notably occurred in China, where the "One Child Policy" was adopted in 1979 to address population growth concerns.  Family planning services typically focus on promoting and providing access to birth control devices (contraceptive pills, condoms, etc). Where those fail, counseling as to whether to use an abortion clinic's services may be provided.  More draconian options include forced sterilization--which has been used in the United States to prevent mentally deficient people from reproducing.

protectionism -- an economic policy in which a nation restricts imports, imposes tariffs, adopts restrictive quotas or laws, subsidizes its own producers to enable them to more effectively compete, or takes other steps to protect what it deems to be its own economic interests

purchasing power parity -- a scheme by what a nation’s currency is adjusted so that, in comparing it to another currency, they will purchase the same amount of goods and services.

redistribution of wealth—the transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor, typically through government taxation policy, in an effort to benefit the disadvantaged and reduce the income gap between the “haves” and “have nots.” Funding welfare assistance programs would be one way that governments could use this money.  The international version of this would transfer wealth from rich nations to poor nations.  Affluent countries forgiving poor nations’ debts is a starting point for accomplishing this.

subsidy -- a government payment to producers or distributors in an industry that policy makers deem needs help. The subsidy can have the effect of the industry increasing prices, hiring more labor, exporting more products, expanding, etc. 

sustainable development -- a type of development that hopefully allows future generations’ standard of living and quality of life to be at least as good as the present generation.

sweatshops -- manufacturing operations (typically of garments, shoes, etc) in poor countries in which workers are paid very low wages, work long hours, and toil under very poor conditions (perhaps in unsafe environments, laboring without respect from management, being exploited, etc.) Critics charge that the low prices affluent Western consumers expect are made possible by the sweat and misery of the world's poor.  

tariff -- a tax on imports levied at the point of entry based on the value of the commodity

trade, balance of--the relative comparison between the monetary value of a nation's exports vs. its imports.  U.S. exports and imports were last roughly equal in 1991. Since then a trade deficit--which in 2006 reached $764 billion / year has developed.

United Nations -- an organization of over 180 member nations founded in 1945 to promote human rights, international peace and co-operation.

war & ethnocentrism -- According to E. O. Wilson, “War can be defined as the violent rupture of the intricate and powerful fabric of territorial taboos observed by social groups. The force behind most warlike policies is ethnocentrism...”

workers' rights--legal rights under relevant (labor) law and human rights, as in the UN Declaration of Human Rights articles 23 & 24, that govern workplace conditions, conditions / benefits of employment, and relations between workers and management.  Important rights here include the right to safe working conditions, right to join labor unions, expectation of fair compensation, and freedom from discrimination.  The International Labour Organization is the UN agency concerned with promoting decent working conditions.

World Bank -- an international financial institution of over 180 member nations whose purpose is to promote development in poor countries by providing loans and technical assistance.  Beginning at the end of World War II as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), in 1960 it was expanded with the creation of the International Development Association (IDA). Today, the IBRD and the IDA together constitute the World Bank.

world government--for some this means that all people would live under the political authority of a single, centralized unified government. National boundaries and national sovereignty would no longer exist. For others it refers to a political body that would limit its scope to making, interpreting, and enforcing international law. Albert Einstein supported the former; some argue that, with the United Nations, International Criminal Court, and other international organizations, we already have the beginnings of the latter.  The so-called "New World Order" refers to a particular world government that some conspiracy theorists claim will be ushered in when the hidden agenda of a powerful and secretive few is carried out.

World Trade Organization (WTO) -- an international organization founded in 1995 to promote more international free trade, and regulate / resolve disputes involving international trade of goods and services. It replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), an international body founded in 1947.



Back to Worldview Theme #51