Jewish World Review August 27, 2003 / 29 Menachem-Av, 5763

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Anti-globalization = anti-American | We're all globalists now. In fact, we always were.

"Globalization," in layman's terms, means the growing interconnectedness of the world's societies through trade, treaties and culture. According to the media, the debate over globalization in Washington (and London, Paris, Beijing, etc.) is divided into pro and con camps. What this lazy shorthand overlooks is that almost everybody - on both sides of the issue - is a hypocrite.

Take the anti-globalization left. You know, the face-shrapnel-pocked kids who wear open-toed shoes and Che Guevara T-shirts as they fly from one corner of the globe to another to protest globalization. From the objective eyes of a Martian, this crowd would be the most cosmopolitan - which means, in the original Latin, "citizen of the world" - group of them all.

The anti-globalists use the World Wide Web and Japanese- or Finnish-made PDAs and cell phones to coordinate their protests with kids from Brazil, Japan, Germany and America. They listen to "world music," reggae and rap. They grew up on sushi; they love French films; and they get their news from the BBC and - perhaps - Al-Jazeera.

Even the political agenda of the anti-globalists is globalist. Their favorite organizations have global or universal names: the World Wildlife Fund, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch. Anti-globalization activists will pound their recycled spoons on their recycled high-chairs all day about the need for the U.N. to replace the U.S. in almost every international crisis, be it political or environmental.

Every anti-globalist I've spoken to - and I've spoken to many - wants international laws to regulate global commerce, abolish the death penalty, curb racism and save rain forests and cuddly animals. They want American soldiers and statesmen to be eligible for trial by the International Criminal Court and even the arrogant courts of Belgium.

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Now take the pro-globalization right. Yes, we favor the free movement of goods, services and capital. I myself have been, and remain, a passionate defender of Third World "sweatshops," McDonald's and other bogeymen of anti-globalization left.

Conservative consistency cracks up when favoring globalization means favoring increased immigration or the encroachment of international law on American sovereignty. Some on the libertarian-leaning and business-oriented right favor an open-border policy on immigration, while other conservatives don't mind exporting hamburgers and action movies but have deep reservations about importing Mexicans.

Still, nothing unites every faction of the right more than opposition to the idea that foreign courts or governments have authority over Americans. To the fury of pretty much everyone on the right, the liberal justices on the Supreme Court increasingly cite the popular opinions, laws and judicial rulings of foreign countries in support of their interpretations of American law on such issues as the death penalty and homosexual rights.

Virtually all conservatives and libertarians believe popular opinion in America should be irrelevant to the court's interpretation of the Constitution. So the suggestion that our courts should give a fig about the opinions of Jamaicans or Germans makes us flick off the safety catches on our muskets.

The upshot of all this is that globalization is a fact of life. The issue isn't whether it's good or bad - globalization just is. Saying you're for it or against it is like saying you're for or against gravity. That's interesting but who cares?

The relevant argument is what you want to do about it. I can tell you what kind of globalization someone prefers simply by asking what they think about America and the United Nations. If they think the former is a problem and the latter is a solution, they lean to the left on globalization. If they think it's the other way around, they lean to the right. Indeed, in common usage, anti-globalization is often just another term for anti-Americanism.

And in a way, that makes perfect sense. Despite what you may have heard to the contrary, the United States has always been an engine of globalization. Our founding documents speak to the universal rights of mankind. Our culture - high and low - is a stew of influences from around the world. Our economy and our armies have led the way in pulling huge segments of humanity out of the twin yokes of poverty and tyranny.

No, we haven't done a perfect job, but that's always been an unfair standard. The question is whether you think someone or something - like the U.N. - could do a better job. And how you answer that question answers a lot of other questions as well.

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