165) and he argued for a change in consciousness to go along with the economic globalization. Arias argued that the current climate is not interdependent, but actually fiercely independent and insular and moreover dedicated to self-aggrandizement, not cooperation to spread economic justice around the globe. Other voices are also arguing this, again presupposing that globalization is no longer an issue, but a fact, but that the globalization that exists is one of independence, not interdependence. Two of those voices specifically argue the twin issues of social justice in global interdependence, and ethics.
Social justice as a measure of global interdependence
Polack proposes that currently, "social work is confronted with a global system in which the world's people are bound together in a complex web of economic relationships. People's lives are now linked to lives of distant others through the clothes that they wear, the energy that warms them, and even the food that they eat," (2004, p. 281) making it clear that even sociology is an economic issue in the current age.
Although he is slightly ethnocentric, citing the United States NASW (National Association of Social Workers) Code of Ethics, written in 2000, as the proof that there is currently a global mandate regarding social issues. Even so, the Code states that "social workers should promote the general welfare of society, from local to global levels... [including] social, economic, political, and cultural values and institutions that are compatible with the realization of social justice" (NASW Code of Ethics pp. 26 and 27, cited by Polack 2004, p. 281).
Polack offers a history of the world that leads to the conclusion that, not only is global economic interdependence increasing now; it has done so for centuries. He refers to colonialism as the "precursor" to the global economy, noting that beginning in the late 1400s, and continuing until the middle of the 20th century -- in short, concomitant with the beginnings of what we now think of as globalization -- European nations "exploited the peoples and resources in the areas of the world now commonly referred to as the 'Global South'" and that "Much of the current geopolitical map is actually the product of this history of European colonialism" (Polack 2004, p. 281).
While Polack rightly notes that for a great deal of that time, the goal was the movement of local resources toward Europe and the exploitation and social marginalization or elimination of the people of the colonized nation (2004, p. 281), the entire exercise nonetheless established an interconnectedness, although of course it could not be described as interdependence.
It was not until after the end of World War II that colonization truly ended, and in some cases quite a long time after World War II, as Polack po8nts out. However, with that ending came a period of intense restructuring, often in ways not much better than colonization, with the developed nations funneling vast sums of money through the hands of indigenous leaders in the Global South, money that served to make those nations arguably more dependent upon the developed nations rather than less (Polack 2004, p. 281). Indeed, if it can be argued that there is no true global interdependence at the moment, it would be because:
The debt crisis of the Global South is a significant factor contributing to current inequities in the distribution of resources worldwide. (and) Its origins may be traced back to the period immediately following World War II when northern investors, including the newly formed World Bank, began providing loans to the countries of the Global South for large-scale infrastructure projects, such as hydroelectric dams, highways, power plants, and steel mills" (Polack 2004, p. 281).
Unfortunately, many of those projects failed to provide the benefits they were supposed to provide. In the Philippines, a huge hydroelectric project, costing 11 times its original estimate and contributing mightily to the economic distress in the region, was never even used because it was built atop and earthquake zone (Polack 2004, p. 281). Polack notes that "Overall, there has been a steady rise in the debt of the Global South, which totaled well over 2 trillion dollars at the end of 1999, with 47 of the poorest countries of the world owing 422 billion" (Polack 2004, p. 281) of that amount.
This, too, seems more like dependence than interdependence. In fact, the global new economy has also caused injustices regarding wages, working hours and child labor, especially when "transnational corporations are allowed to sidestep local regulations (when they exist)" and, too, Generally, these corporations are also allowed to avoid or pay greatly reduced taxes and tariffs on goods 'processed' by local labor within these zones " (Polack 2004, p. 281). Polack attributes much of this to NAFTA, GATT and the WTO: clearly, these are signals that Polack considers globalization to have fostered not interdependence but dependence, in short, it has simply advanced the status quo in place virtually since 1492 under a different name.
Polack also addresses unionization as a global interdependence issue. He notes that "Although the United Nations' (1948) Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated the ideal that every human being has the right to join a union and engage in collective bargaining, organizing efforts in the Global South have frequently been met with immediate firing, harassment, blacklisting, and violence" (2004, p. 281).
Sadly, Breitenfellner agrees with Polack, writing that:
Trade unions are typically omitted from studies on international political economy, and apparently for good reason. At first glance, labour simply does not feature as a front line player in international relations. In the post Second World War order, they acted predominately within states, sheltered by international arrangements like the Bretton Woods system or the Marshall Plan, and by national consensus based on Fordism, Keynesianism and protectionism" (Breitenfellner 1997, p. 531).
In the current unequal and fiercely independent condition of nations, Polack (2004, p. 281) notes that powerless and desperate workers are now "pitted against each other in a 'race to the bottom' with regard to wages and working conditions," hardly a scenario suggesting the flowering of international interdependence. Indeed, the nations with the power, should collective bargaining raise its head in one of the dependent, post-colonial economies, simply move on to another experiencing even more dire straits and offering even more concessions (Polack 2004, p. 281). Polack contends, for this reason, that the "widely held" perception of a net transfer or resources from North to South is false, and is mainly due to the well-publicized aid programs; in fact, he contends, the transfer is in the other direction as cheap labor and exploitable resources and commodities continue to unequally ease the lives and fill the bank accounts of the North (Polack 2004, p. 281). (Note: Polack uses the term South as a sort of shorthand for less developed nations wherever they are located, and North for developed nations, those that were once colonizers of the 'southern' nations.)
In view of the work of Bartholomew and Polack, especially, it is worth asking whether ethics enters into the economics of globalization at all, and whether the current state of global ethics suggests interdependence or independent/dependent status.
Quinlivan and Davies take issue with "those on the left" who believe the things that Polack and Bartholomew suggest: that "trade accrues economic power to developed nations causing environmental degradation, unemployment and reduced wages in developing countries" (2003, p. 39). On the other hand, they note that "Those on the right believe that trade accrues economic power to developing nations causing a loss of jobs to developing countries" (2003, p. 39.) Quinlivan and Davies contend, however, that empirical research shows that free markets ensure economic and social opportunities to both the developed and less developed nations. They also note that ethics is not generally addressed by economists but that, in the current globalization environment, "Although the transition of economics from a philosophy to a science over the past three decades has been a boon to economic practice and thinking, the discipline has arguably 'thrown out the baby with the bathwater'" (2003, p. 39). In short, it is necessary, in order to be fully informed concerning economics, to include 'normative' considerations, such as sociology, cultural anthropology and even philosophy. In that vein, Quinlivan and Davies note that even Adam Smith "the father of modern economics, was not shy about merging normative statements into his path-breaking test, the Theory of Moral Sentiments" (2003, p. 39). They also agree with Jagdish Bhagwati that free trade has been proven to help developing countries reduce poverty and upgrade the lives of the citizens.
Among the proofs they provide is the "Hecksher-Ohlin-Samuelson theoretically-based evidence and some minor empirical support (i.e., adjusted for productivity differences, government impediments, input heterogeneity, and transportation costs) that real wages have a tendency to converge" (Quinlivan and Davies, 2003, p. 39), a fact that would suggest that interdependence is inevitable. They provide both anecdotal and empirical evidence that "the improvement to world welfare is a direct result of increased globalization," again, a…