Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Globalization from Across the Globe 

Today I went to this amazing seminar and review of this book called "In Defense of Global Capitalism." It was a panel discussion including the Swedish Author Johan Norberg. It was put on by my new friend Nada's group called the Friedrich Naumann Foundation which is a German foundation for liberal policy. The event was co-sponsored by Jordan's Young Entrepreneur's Association.

So there I was sitting in a conference room in Amman, Jordan hearing Jordanian scholars, young businesspeople (about 2/3 men, 1/3 women) and a Swedish author debate the merits of globalization (about forty people in all). Not my usual crowd to say the least.

First, I was impressed by the moderator, a very attractive woman in her late-twenties/early thirties who is Editor-In-Chief of a new magazine: Jordan Business Monthly. We each got copies of the magazine which was an impressive publication more aesthetic than the Economist (I haven't had a chance to thoroughly examine the contents yet). I spoke with the woman briefly afterwards and it turns out she studied at Georgetown University. She gave me her card and told they are always looking for new writers especially regarding international issues. I wonder if they need any bloggers?

Anyways, back to the seminar itself:

The panel consisted the author of the controversial book Mr. Norberg, a Jordanian Senior Researcher at the Jordanian University who adeptly criticized scattered parts of the book, a young Jordanian businessman who talked mainly about the institutional factors hindering Jordan's participation in the global marketplace, and an "Arab woman activist" (title taken right off the program), who was basically the counterpoint. She was the anti-globalization advocate and reminded me of about half the women involved in my hometown politics (Madison, WI) and 3/4 of the students at Wesleyan University.

I admit though, despite my historical protectionist leanings, the Swedish guy did an amazing job. Yes, I still stand with the criticism (highlighted by the professor on the panel) that the book didn’t address the argument that it is not the theory of globalization that is the problem, but the way it is often carried out (i.e. Michael Moore’s images of Flint, Michigan’s despair post-General Motors plant shutdown). Still, I was surprisingly swayed by his overall hypotheses.


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