Gathered 1 The Reading Selection Barber -Benjamin Essay

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gathered: 1. The reading selection Barber -Benjamin Barber, "Jihad . McWorld," The Atlantic (Mar. 1992) http://www.theatlantic./magazine/archive/1992/03/jihad -- mcworld/3882 / 2.

The significance of coffee as a commodity

The globalization has produced in time some of the most interesting changes in the economy of the world. In the 16th, and 17h centuries, the trade with Indian spices or exotic condiments was seen as one of the most important aspects of trade in the world. Conquest wars have been fought for the control of these regions. In today's world, the market has become more specialized from the point-of-view of the commodities it nurtures. In this sense, coffee has become a true commodity in the sense of the globalized world.

The issue of globalization is by no means a new element for the study of international relations and that of international trade. It can be said that even the ancient Romans and Greeks practiced a global trade, however restricted by the boundaries of their empires. However, especially after the end of the Cold War, globalization became a phenomenon and a reality of the every day life. There is evidence of globalized economic relations in all walks of life, from the basic cable television which broadcasts live from every corner of the world, to the actual bananas from Ecuador or Chile bought in every supermarket in the United States or Europe. However, it is important to note that the world is not reduced to mere economic exchanges and that the political life has often been considered to be a global atmosphere. Yet the forces that bring together the economic part may be the same ones as those taking apart political and cultural entities.

Indeed, the world we live in is marked by a global perspective. In this sense, Barber, back in 1992 talks about the difference between the Jihad and the McWorld as being the representative elements of the culture and of economy. Thus he points out that "these two tendencies are sometimes visible in the same countries at the same instant: thus Yugoslavia, clamoring just recently to join the New Europe, is exploding into fragments; India is trying to live up to its reputation as the world's largest integral democracy while powerful new fundamentalist parties like the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, along with nationalist assassins, are imperiling its hard-won unity. States are breaking up or joining up: the Soviet Union has disappeared almost overnight, its parts forming new unions with one another or with like-minded nationalities in neighboring states" (Barber, 1992). Therefore, it can be concluded that the issue of economic globalization, which can also be quantified in the impact of commodities, does not necessarily benefit all aspects of the state. Indeed, it can improve the economy of the state, but at the same time it can have a negative impact on the cultural or even social aspects of the society.

Coffee is in this sense one of the most important commodities in the world especially for the large coffee producers. It is a well-known commodity from the times of the Venetians and it was a very fashionable drink on the continent. Thus, "in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, however, coffee was be far the most popular of the three "temperance beverages" in England (the other two being tea and chocolate). Some 2000 coffeehouses, it is estimated, existed in London alone in the late seventeenth century" (Good, n.d.). The influence of coffee therefore was obvious even before the 20th century. Even so, the general belief is that, unlike other commodities such as gold or oil, coffee did not represent a clear cut reason for waging wars (Good, n.d )

Countries in South America became some of the most important coffee producers as the climate suited the plant and the working specifics were appropriate for this type of plantation. In this sense, countries such as Brazil, Columbia, or even African states became important coffee exporters. According to the International Coffee Organization "in 1905 Colombia exported five hundred thousand bags of coffee; by 1915 exports had doubled. While Brazil desperately tried to control its overproduction, Colombian coffee became increasingly popular with American and European consumers. In 1914 Brazil supplied three-quarters of U.S. imports with 5.6 million bags, but by 1919 that figure had fallen to 4.3 million, while Colombia's share had risen from 687,000 to 915,000 bags. During the same…[continue]


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