Globalization is just one of those . . . words. It makes me reach for my packets of oy. David Brooks:
The globalization paradigm has led, in the political arena, to a certain historical narrative: There were once nation-states like the U.S. and the European powers, whose economies could be secured within borders. But now capital flows freely. Technology has leveled the playing field. Competition is global and fierce.So, you know, on one hand "there were once nation-states," but now there are "dynamos like India and China," which are, what, anarchoprimitive agricollectives? The idea that some sort of stateless transnational borderless economic singularity is swiftly ripping away borders like stagehands rip up gaff tape on load-out is plain kooky. I am of course for the free movement of labor and capital. Call me the next time you hit Charles de Gaulle, or Beijing Capital International Airport for that fucking matter, without a passport. I'm just saying.
New dynamos like India and China threaten American dominance thanks to their cheap labor and manipulated currencies. Now, everything is made abroad. American manufacturing is in decline. The rest of the economy is threatened.
But the incapacity of goofball suburbanite opeditorialists to make shit stick to the wall when they try to define their own empty-set vocabulary that I want to throw shit at myself, but rather the common contention, here dressed up as if it hasn't been uttered a baker's-dozen times a day since 1971 or so, that the problem is "skills" and the solution is "education."
The central process driving this is not globalization. It’s the skills revolution. We’re moving into a more demanding cognitive age. In order to thrive, people are compelled to become better at absorbing, processing and combining information. This is happening in localized and globalized sectors, and it would be happening even if you tore up every free trade deal ever inked.A more demanding cognitive age, seriously? Isn't it lovely how white-collar desk jockeys flatter themselves into believing that they know more than Gus in maintenance because they've figured out the IF function on Excel? Gus in maintenance actually knows the difference between a reheat and a sewage expeller, say. Last winter I rebuilt a part of the motor for my washing machine. That shit was hard, yo. Took me days. Boggled my mind. Fuck it, let's see David Brooks try his hand at farming. "A more demanding cognitive age." What the fuck ever, man.
You will not hear any scratchy-throated defenses of blue-collar saintliness from me. I'm not trying to defeat Barack Obama except in the, uh, existential sense. I grew up in blue-collar (ex-blue-collar more accurately) Western PA, and that demographic is as rife with assholes as any other. And it is certainly true that among the bitter-boys of PA, there exists a certain cultural predilection toward know-nothingism, which might be remarkable were it not for the fact that the managerial class, the board-room, and the halls of Congress possess marked dedications to dumbassery as well. I have heard the vice-president of my board of trustees utter things so preposterous and uninformed that I've nearly spit out my coffee, and watched the rest of the captains of the local economy nod sagely as if witnessing the words of the Nazarene. The President of the United States is an incarnate Ionesco script. Human stupidity and a few lower bodily functions are the great collective traits of humankind.
Yet what people like Brooks are actually saying when they say that people need to become "better at absorbing, processing and combining information" is that you motherfuckers better learn to land on your feet the next time the pink slip comes down the line. The neofeudal State Capital economy has found it useful to turn you loose in a sea of data entry clerks who imagine themselves to be engaged in some kind of excercise of intellect, scriveners who think that they're kings. Human resources, dudes and dudettes. You bitches is fungible as fuck. All this "skills" and "job training" bullshit that pumps through the airwaves via the loud mouths of your betters is pure propoganda aimed at convincing you that you're raising yourself up rather than accepting quickly diminishing returns for pseudo-work whose "productivity" is measured in the number of hours you sit on your fat ass multiplied by the pages of senseless data you type and generate and iterate and Excelate and masticate and excrete in the service of the international financialized ouroboros.
Do as little as you can, and do it on company time.
UPDATE: As an addendum to the post above, it's worth considering how David Brooks constructs his argument.
The globalization paradigm has led, in the political arena, to a certain historical narrative: There were once nation-states like the U.S. and the European powers, whose economies could be secured within borders. But now capital flows freely. Technology has leveled the playing field. Competition is global and fierce.Now. Paradigms don't lead. A paradigm is a model. It is descriptive, not prescriptive. It is an abstraction of an actuality, as all models are.
Except. The globalization paradigm turns out not to be leading to anything or anyplace, but to "a certain historical narrative." A certain political narrative "in the political arena." Politics, in other words, is a realm of pure symbol in which models of a political economy are mediated into narratives. (Actually, this is true, but not in the way that Davey thinks it's true.) Or, if you wish to explain this without sound like yah got one ah dem fancy degrees: politics dyes bullshit red and applies it like lipstick to a pig. What's interesting, in any case, on a rhetorical level, is that there is no claim that an actual economy produced observable material circumstances, but rather that an ideation produced a fairy tale, which, as observed above, is a self-refuting one at that.
The material claims, meanwhile, are ticklingly absurd. Global capital doesn't flow freely, and the only technology that's ever leveled a playing field is the sort that moves earth and levels field. The metaphor of the dog won't hunt. Technology is a slippery term, but presumably it means something like tools, machines, and 'lectronics. Well, friends, the replacement of muscle power with motive machines and the replacement of human intellect with electronic calculation have not functioned to equalize any forces in this world so far as I can tell.