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Wednesday, 6 February, 2002, 15:22 GMT
Globalisation: Capitalist evil or a way out of poverty?
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Every year anti-globalisation protesters target the World Economic Forum and this week's meeting in New York is no different.

The debate on whether globalisation is capitalism at its most evil or a promising way to reduce poverty is now raging wherever world leaders gather to discuss trade or economic issues.

Supporters of globalisation argue that by becoming part of the world economy, developing countries and those living in abject poverty get a chance to grasp economic opportunities.

The protesters, however, believe that globalisation is merely an excuse for big business to run roughshod over the developing world.

For them "free trade" simply enables multinationals to dominate developing markets and push out local enterprise. They call for alternative ways of reducing poverty that prioritise environmental and human rights.

What do you believe? Can globalisation be a force for good or is it just a charade for big business to exploit poor countries?

We discussed globalisation in Talking Point ON AIR, the phone-in programme of the BBC World Service and BBC News Online. We were joined on the programme by Alison Marshall of the World Development Movement, which campaigns against global poverty, and by Brink Lindsey, Director of the Centre for Trade Policy Studies at the public policy research foundation, the Cato Institute in Washington.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Globalisation is not the problem. Globalisation of free market capitalism is. Capitalism in itself is not a bad thing, but it cannot be the only aspect to society. Those societies with the highest standard of living are those which allow some degree of Capitalism, but combine it with a strong sense of social justice. The richest country in the world (by a long way the USA)is not the country with the highest standard of living.
James Siddle, Notts UK

What is the alternative to globalisation?

Graham, UK
What is the alternative to globalisation? So many people complain and even riot against it, but they never offer any debate. They don't tell us what we should be doing instead. Surely they don't want to ban exports and imports and live it isolated groups, do they?
Graham, UK

While people are making so many negative comments about the greed of corporations, I must tell everyone that many, many corporations donate lots of money to causes, both domestic and international. Bill Gates donated millions to help with the AIDS epidemic in Africa. In fact, he has his own foundation that strictly deals with donations. If he did not have all of this money, would Africa have it now? The money he donated probably helped to buy drugs that will help prolong the lives of many, until science can find a vaccine to save the lives of the millions suffering from the disease. Think about it.
Meredith, US

Who could disagree with the THEORY of globalisation? It's just a shame that the actual PROCESS is so corrupt! I think a better term for this so called globalisation would be westernisation.
Kate B, Dorchester, England

Globalisation will only be of benefit if people have the right and responsibility to make their own choice at their own speed and not be muscled by international big business just because it has the economic might to do so. Also Globalisation will not work if the motives for doing anything is for greed and self gain, the small stakeholders in our planet have rights too. Enron serves to make this point.
ajf, Singapore

Globalisation means that governments have lost power.

Barry McGrath, UK
Globalisation means that governments have lost power. This means that businesses no longer need to answer to the people. At the end of the day it is all about profit and keeping the shareholders happy. They do this by moving factories and businesses to the cheapest labour markets, creating competition for work and keeping world pay low. Apart from the rich directors and shareholders. Thus the rich get richer and the poor become poorer.
Barry McGrath, London, England

What many people forget in these debates is what happened to our countries through the industrial revolution. The ridiculous poverty and abject misery of those times for poor people is what the people in the poorer countries are experiencing now. It would be impossible for there not to be a difficult transition from going between a rural subsistence economy straight to a global modern economy. Our job is to make this transition easier, in order to do this we do need to put their firms in competition with western firms. It is only through exposure to what we have that developing countries will get the opportunity to advance.
M Murdoch, Cambridge, UK

I feel so strongly against globalisation. Despite my understanding that the world today is becoming a tiny global village (thanks to the Internet), I feel that all the talk about globalisation is just a plot by the G8 countries to have a great edge in terms of trade over and above the "littler" countries. Do you think the G8 countries will ever let in exports which are "Not up to standard in to their countries markets"? I hope we all sit up and instead of all the talk of free trade concentrate more on fair trade. Thanks.
Obiajulu Anyaeji, Lagos, Nigeria

History has taught us that globalisation means only one thing: rich get richer, poor get poorer.
Nenad, Yugoslavia

Capitalism is not evil, it is a natural evolution in the economic process. Some countries as we have seen from past history have not been "ready" for capitalism and they have failed miserably. In developing countries, the first priority should be building a sound economic base. This can only happen if there is a body of government in place that is both committed to their people's welfare. Globalisation is great for those countries who are ready for it but could in fact be the killing blow for those who are not.
Carole.St.Pierre, Crown Point, NY,USA

Capitalism is not evil, it is a natural evolution in the economic process.

Carole.St.Pierre, Crown Point, NY,USA
The developing world certainly needs help from the developed world, however it does not need the polluting and unsustainable technologies being pushed at them under the title globalisation. Also, globalisation seems to imply that transporting goods and foodstuffs thousands of miles using valuable fossil fuels and creating massive pollution is somehow a good thing. It certainly is not sustainable. What the developing and the developed world need are initiatives that allow countries to be self-supporting and less dependent on the vagaries of world exchange rates, transport costs and international sanctions. However those promoting world trade do not want this, they want to enslave the developing world to their technologies and trade tie-ins. Globalisation as envisaged by the current world leaders is likely to damage the developing world more than it helps them.
Simon, London

The message is basic and simple. The developing countries need the help and financial investment of the West in order for them to have higher standards of living. Nothing else will work. To think so is simply dreaming. People that protest against Western investment are actually causing harm to developing nations.
Daniel, Chicago USA

Greed and profit and will not lead to a better, safer world.

Janet, Sydney, Australia
As many have commented, the vision of globalisation is very positive, but in its implementation, the different processes have become out of sync. Corporate globalisation and financial globalisation without an underlying value system which sees the unity of the whole of humanity with each other and with the earth, it will become dominated by our basest instincts - greed and profit and will not lead to a better, safer world.
Janet, Sydney, Australia

I am all for multi-national businesses bringing technology to the third world. Provided they obey the laws of the land and create wealth for the employees (pay) and government (taxes), I see no reason why they should not be allowed to invest in developing countries!!!
Garth, Harare, Zimbabwe

It is inevitable that at some future time in our collective future, this planet, with all its many shades of humanity, will unite into a single whole. Today's issue of globalisation is a natural flow of human energy to that unity. However, since selfish desire governs much of the business community, care must be taken now to set up a global system that is fair and true to right values for all humanity and not just for an economic sector which believes the reason for life is to accumulate wealth in name of 'business'.
Fraser, UK

While selective interpretation and implementation can be bad, who could object to this vision ?

Peter Paul, Hong Kong
In a narrow economic sense, globalisation is about the free trade of goods, services and capital, in order to allow people to do what they are best at, and to give them the means to do so. This sometimes hurts the vested interests of certain producing industries, but benefits consumers, and increases overall wealth. In a broad sense, globalization is not discriminating between foreigners and non-foreigners with respect to goods, services, people, ideas or culture, judging everything on its merits, and remembering that we are all part of one human race.While selective interpretation and implementation can be bad, who could object to this vision ?
Peter Paul, Hong Kong

Obviously the majority of the posters here are from developed nations - like armchair generals - over analysing and harping over a thing that just too obvious to me. Globalisation is what is needed now to spread opportunity and wealth to developing countries. I say what good is preserving local culture and local industry when people live in abject poverty unimaginable to 90% of the posters writing against globalisation here. I'm originally from India and I have seen how life can be for people in rural interiors where the word 'opportunity' simply does not have any meaning. I do not care if people lose what they'll have to lose if they embrace globalisation, what I really care about it that they have enough food to eat, shelter, clothes, education and dignity that only money can give in today's world.
Suresh, India/USA

It would do no good if a hierarchical system were instituted with the western nations at the helm

Simon Cameron, London, UK
In order to work in the present climate of increasing demands for civil liberties, globalisation must be able to produce an egalitarian society and eradicate poverty in developing nations. It would do no good if a hierarchical system were instituted with the western nations at the helm. This would be neo colonialism on a global scale, and the result would be global anarchy. While globalisation cannot therefore follow the whims and dictates of a few elitists, it must have some form of governance or global conflict would prevail. This might be resolved with the formation of a world government elected by all the nations of the globe.
Simon Cameron, London, UK

If globalisation and capitalism are so good, then why is Argentina on the brink of catastrophic social meltdown?
John McVey, Edinburgh, Scotland

Why do people keep referring to "the violent protests of Seattle"? As I remember it, the police attacked a peaceful group of protesters who were merely blocking the road. Not to mention the Genoa Forum incident.
Richard L, UK

People are beginning to see why capitalism is not such a good idea

CW, Manchester, UK
From the day we are born we are geared towards a consumer culture. It is driven into us from things we see all around us and obviously people must take influence from them. But this consumer culture itself created by capitalism and corporate rule is beginning to get thrown at us in a huge way. We're not seen as human beings anymore, we are merely seen as consumers. Capitalism doesn't let the west see the real issues, we are told to buy, buy, buy! Who cares about the real evil going on in some parts of the world (some caused directly by western capitalist virtues), we're too busy waiting to hear about the Beckhams et al. So thus, the increasingly arrogant corporate geared western rule keeps us in our place. But, people are beginning to see why capitalism is not such a good idea and the road looks bright ahead.
CW, Manchester, UK

Globalisation seems good on paper. However in reality it would be much worse than we can even imagine. It would hand a small number of people all the power. It is inevitable that in any government, few will have power over many. Globalisation would just make it worse with fewer people with more power and fewer people to oppose them. No matter how it would be approached it would throw off the theory of balance of power. So if the people were in power there would be no one to oppose them.
Andrew, USA

Globalisation is never having to say you're sorry when you fire thousands of people

Gary Sage, London, England
Globalisation is never having to say you're sorry when you fire thousands of people all over the world in order to keep the promises you lied to your shareholders about.
Gary Sage, London, England

What needs to be realised is that many people are not frustrated with free trade as such, but how it is conducted. The current framework for international trade provided by multinational agreements can, at best be described as unfair. Many people are also not opposed to capitalism as such, again simply how it is implemented. It is apparent to any dispassionate observer that far from upholding the principles of democracy, the exigencies of commerce has served often to thwart them. All one has to do is recall that Britain's colonial adventures in India, China and the East Indies were perpetuated by what was felt to be an inalienable right to force nations half way across the world to trade with them on their own terms.
Subodh Patil, India/US

Corporations are free to exercise excessive power because political institutions are largely limited to the nation state. We need a global government to regulate global capitalism.
Mark, UK

Globalisation is the key to economic growth. Trans-national corporations locating in less economically developed countries boosts their otherwise struggling economy, decreases employment and helps in the reduction of the development gap. The rich countries become richer and the poorer countries also benefit greatly from globalisation. It is a stepping stone towards a brighter and more economically developed future.
Stephen Grieves, London, England

What globalisation means is that it is a process to network worldwide with advanced technologies. In this sense, Globalisation itself doesn't contain the senses of neither "good" nor "bad". But, it plays a role to display us the inequality among states in the current international system more clearly. In order to improve this situation, the First World countries should not persist their national interests, which, for instance, now the United States tries to do. Multinational corporations as a main player in the international economic system must behave under the idea to contribute themselves to the area which they belong to.

My conclusion is that globalisation is a good way to forward for the world economy as long as the First World think of the political, economic and cultural conditions of the developing countries. If the First World insists the traditional idea "the strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept", then Globalisation will be a synonym for evil.
Satoshi Otomo, Japan

The word globalisation is meaningless. It's just an anarchist's way of saying "whatever I don't like". If you want to know whether capitalism works, just look at the ruin seventy years of communism and socialism left behind them. The West and countries like Taiwan and Singapore have prospered, while the old USSR and most of its Empire remain bogged down in poverty. Let the protestors riot all they want. In ten years time they will all be managers in big companies, or maybe ministers in governments and worrying about their own teenager rebels.
Jon Livesey, Sunyvale, CA, USA

Ask the people of the former Communist block countries whether they feel things have improved since the West got its grubby little hands on them

Tommy, Sweden
Just ask the people of the former Communist block countries whether they feel things have improved since the West got its grubby little hands on them. Unemployment is worse, poverty is worse, the rich-poor gap is huge. And guess what, take a look at your own country, I can guarantee things are the same. And they keep trying to make us believe that globalisation is good for us.
Tommy, Sweden

To Tommy, Sweden: I have asked people in post-communist societies how things are different now. I lived in Lithuania for two years and I learned quite a bit about how the Lithuanians suffered under communism. The young people have far more hope than their parents did, and they are succeeding in their new society very well. The west's "grubby little hands" are providing opportunities the older generation of Lithuanians could only dream of. Freedom to travel, free speech, freedom to worship, and the freedom to work hard and succeed. When you listen to stories of how the intellectuals and professionals were shipped off to work camps in Siberia, you might change your mind about how terrible the west's influence has been. Yes, there is a huge gap between rich and poor, there is an organised crime problem, and there is high unemployment. However, I only met a few people who would prefer to revert to communist ideology. Times in Lithuania are better now, indeed.
Shawn, Washington, DC, USA

Complaints about America "imposing" its culture on others are baseless. No one is forced to eat at MacDonalds, watch American TV, go to American movies or wear Levi's. I'm an American and I seldom do these things! If your fellow citizens eat fast food or choose US culture over their own it's because they choose to.
Peter Nelson, Boston, USA

Like just about everything else (including nuclear power, electricity and genetic engineering!) globalisation can be used for good OR evil. To say it is all bad is way too simplistic and perhaps indicates that some have an almost psychological need to protest about something. Some companies certainly do questionable things but others may bring benefits to those they employ and who buy their products.
Bill, Exeter, UK

In 1973, E.F. Schumacher wrote a book entitled, "Small Is Beautiful." It was well-received but ahead of its time. Now that we're accepting power farming may not be as sensible or as good for us as a more localised approach, perhaps Schumacher's ideas of a more decentralised approach to economics are finding their time.
Steve B, Scotland

The battle between capitalism and anti-globalisation (whatever that actually means), socialism, communism and all the other -ism's is completely pointless - none of these ideologies stand up in extremis - a healthy balance between regulation and freedom in the markets is the only way forward to benefit all with some degree of equality.
Chris, UK

Globalisation seems to be working in the broadest sense, but there do appear to be justifiable concerns about the richer countries protecting their own suppliers at the cost of the developing world. We should work on creating an environment where subsidies and trade barriers can be dismantled - if first world farmers et al. go bust in the process, then tough.
Richard N, UK

The emphasis should be on FAIR free trade initiatives.

Andy, UK
The growth of global markets, while of benefit to some sectors of world economies, is still driven by the survival of the fittest, where corporate profit margins rule the day. The emphasis should be on FAIR free trade initiatives. Tackling poverty should be proactive and targeted; not in default. In my opinion those of us looking at the world through cyber-tinted, virtual reality spectacles need to appreciate that those people in dire, daily poverty do not see the rise of globalisation as the answer to their predicament, nor is it. Governments, especially in the third world also need to be more adventurous, in fostering locally based, international partnerships, and guarding against any corporate exploitation. The peaceful protests of those attempting to 're-focus' the march of corporate finance is justified. Violence, however, will never provide the answer, is entirely counter-productive, and hijacks the agenda of those expressing legitimate concerns.
Andy, Oxfordshire, UK

There is one example which shows how the West views the developing world. Both Britain and the US make strenuous efforts to sell cigarettes to poor countries. Neither do they not give out health warnings against smoking as they do in their own countries. The developing nations need tobacco like a hole in the head. Imagine how their health services are going to cope in 20 years time with all the smoking related diseases we are imposing upon them. But of course then we can sell them expensive medicines that we have developed in the West. Doesn't it make you proud to be British !
Anthony, Reading, England

Capitalism is, and always has bee about, greed and power. Do not try to explain it any other way. Why else do the rich want to get richer and richer? Do people like Bill Gates and Microsoft really NEED to earn more than the GDP of entire countries in profits? Of course they don't! How many wars have erupted purely for resource reasons, over OIL for example? Most of them, one way or another. And thanks to the Americans Communism is seen as something "evil" What a world. Next time someone tries to say how great capitalism is, ask that person to put their money where their mouth is, and to donate half their funds to charity. Most won't do it. Greed!
Michelle, UK

Globalisation and neoliberalism is the cause of the world disorder we are living. These two monsters make benefits for a few, but affect millions of people. This world is entering to a social chaos caused by open and liberal economical policies. Time to make a stop pals, and think about this issue.
Rod Gomez, Mexico (living abroad)

The best way to achieve the socialistic dream of prosperity for everyone is free trade! The infrastructure is the problem in many developing countries, not globalisation. Globalisation converts the infrastructure and makes developing countries into developed countries. However, it will never be a perfect action, nothing in life is. The catching-up effects will do well for developing countries, if globalisation will have its way. But Rome wasn't build over a night, and new markets won't be either.
Agust Flygenring, Iceland

It was the trade unions in Italy that made up the bulk of the Genoa protestors

Anonymous, Eire
I think a some people have the wrong perception of anti-capitalist/anti-globalisation protestors. Far from being the work shy trouble makers that some describe us as, the demonstrations that I have been to and organised over the past years have tended to contain a vast majority of workers. It was the trade unions in Italy that made up the bulk of the Genoa protestors (and bore the brunt of the police violence). To write us off as a meaningless and powerless minority would be a mistake. People who are angry over the worsening working conditions, the erosion of our rights as workers and the damage globalisation is doing to our brothers and sisters abroad, are becoming more and more prepared to take their protest to the streets. The solution is quite simple - it Socialism or barbarism.
anonymous, Eire

Globalisation is just a new form of imperialism. Its going to make a handful of multinationals decide our fate for us for the rest of our lives. Large companies will ultimately eat up all smaller ones, eliminating competition and will become absolute authority.
Leo, USA

Globalisation is inevitable and is a spin-off from capitalism. Unfortunately the rest of capitalism stinks but will never disappear because humankind is innately greedy. However the globalisation aspect can be used for good - it allows us to address problems a lot more quickly providing that is our chosen direction. This will never stop big business exploiting those less fortunate than themselves.
Mike, Wakes, UK

I can't help but admire them for recognising inequality and wanting change

Martin, The Hague, (UK ex-patriate)
Global capitalisation is all about getting the rich to be even richer. Ten years ago a US company director got 40 times the wages of an average blue collar worker - their wages are now over 400 times as much. Just 400 families have more than half the world's theoretical wealth. Yet calling this insanity is sneered at. Capitalism requires expansion, there has to be year on year growth, and that's simple maths: if you must expand your economy by an average of 3% a year, in a hundred years you need to consume in a day what we currently consume in a year. The only people saying this are a few ignored liberal writers and the street level protesters. I can't help but admire them for recognising inequality and wanting change, but I don't think they're going to stop globalisation or exponential corporate gain.
Martin, The Hague, (UK ex-patriate)

Globalisation is the new catch-word for imperialism.

Globalisation is the only way forward. I support everyone's right to protest it, but it is just a fact in the modern world. Does anyone really believe that the poor countries would be better off without it? Wouldn't there still be Aids in Africa? Starvation? Wouldn't corrupt governments, who care nothing about the lives of the people, still exist? I believe the answers to these questions would be YES.

There is greed in Capitalism and Globalisation, but that can be said for just about anything that involves humankind. Also, Western countries don't "rape" other countries of their natural resources. Resources are bought and sold with permission and deal making (at least in the modern world). I think anti-Capitalists, instead of constantly wasting energy on protesting, should work with the system to help make the world a better place for all people. Globalisation will not disappear.
Rachel, Seattle, US

We can trace the roots of modern capitalism to the system of slavery - That was a system that would exploit the two factors of production to the extreme limit - (until the pips squeak) - labour and natural resources. (Labour was used and considered as chattels and natural resources, for example, our forests, cleared for large scale farming). Since the abolition of slavery, there have been a few attempts to check this unjust and greedy system and for some time the Socialist system tempered the ardour of the Capitalist system.

However since the fall of the Berlin wall, the Capitalist system (multinationals) has found itself freed and it is now going haywire, running amok to colonise and exploit any nook and cranny of the world and to enslave the masses of the world. This is all reminiscent of a bygone age and if the masses of the world are not vigilant we would soon find ourselves enslaved, if we are not already!
Selva Appasawmy, Mauritius

Economic growth is very attractive since it offers heaven right here and now

Brendan, UK/Australia
Globalisation is the evangelical movement of the religion called economic growth. This religion is very attractive since it offers heaven right here and now to its elders and priests. As with most religions, it is the fundamentalists that cause the problem. Anything that would slow globalisation is seen as evil and anti-American (the religion's home country). Also, like most religions, economic growth has good bits but when enforced fanatically it can destroy communities and eco-systems.
Brendan, UK/Australia

What we are talking about is securing the capital that is now becoming available from emerging industrialised countries. Maintaining a continuous cycle of war and rebuilding in developing countries (using first world arms and bank loans) is now more difficult to hide and having to be replaced. Large corporations have only one aim - to make as much profit for their majority shareholders as possible. They have no interest in the developing world other than the money the can get from it.
Chris, UK

It's big business with small morals and unlimited funds

John, France
It could easily be a force for good but unfortunately it's big business with small morals and unlimited funds moving into foreign countries and destroying the native industries aiming to get 100% market share. They do this because they can suffer a short-term loss while putting smaller operators out of business.
John, France

I'm always interested in how those that protest against globalisation would be able to organise various protests without the use of various pieces of technology such as the internet and mobile phones that globalisation has helped bring forth into the market at a affordable price?
Craig Miller, UK

The very fact that big business wants it so much should sound a big warning bell. Powerful and unbridled capitalist greed has caused as much grief as communist dogma.

These protesters are just a collection of work-shy troublemaking non-conformists

Shaun, Teignmouth, UK

Globalisation is the only realistic way for the world to move forward. The only countries who are suffering extreme deprivations are those which refuse to embrace the concepts of supply and demand. These protesters are just a collection of work-shy, troublemaking non-conformists who will pick up any obscure political baton that gives them a chance to stick their tongues out at the authorities.
Shaun, Teignmouth, UK

Globalisation is a good thing if it is not fuelled by greed. It is corporate greed, not corporate wealth that causes the problems.
Rich, UK

Odd that the protesters all seem to come from wealthy countries. I suggest that only those who are cradled by the trappings of capitalism have the time and means to protest against it. The word hypocrisy springs to mind.
Chris B, Bedford, England

To Chris B. in Bedford, There are a number of anti-globalisation movements in poor countries. In fact, far more than in the developed world. However, their protests do not get the media coverage that anti-globalisation protests in the West get.
Robert Fawkes Jenkins, UK

It seems odd that the comments featured here are only from the UK and USA It would be better to hear what people from the developing countries have to say. Furthermore most developing countries are forced to accept western standards; we just want to maintain our traditional styles of living. If one recalls these countries were thriving civilisations before the western influences started and things such as poverty and starvation were hardly heard of. This is all the effect of colonisation.

Having lived in two western countries, it is hard for any of us to be taken seriously as the western world feels their ideas and technology and products are far superior to ours, forgetting that basic things such as medicine, mathematics and the principles of technology came from these so called developing countries. Personally I cannot see how globalisation will help in any way, except to make the western world richer and developing countries entirely dependent on the west.
Shirley, Nigeria/UK/USA

The bottom line is that capitalism and democracy is the only solution to poverty and oppression

Michael Entill, UK
The bottom line is that capitalism and democracy is the only solution to poverty and oppression. Poor countries seem to want both to retain their traditional cultures unchanged and achieve Western standards of living. But Western standards of living are made possible by Western culture - its energy, creativity, and the opportunity and freedoms it offers its citizens. The irony is that it is the cultural sensitivities of the liberal left that, above all, ensures policies and attitudes that hold back poor countries. Those countries need to face reality; either adopt some Western practices and modernise, or stay in the poverty-stricken Dark Ages.
Michael Entill, UK

Having seen the way governments of developing countries have failed to achieve significant growth in their populations' wealth, how about the governments of these countries moving aside and letting globalised business have a go? The idea of the nation state belongs to the last millennium; the future lies in a different, globalised direction.
David Moran, Scotland/Australia

Capitalism is fundamentally a selfish ideology that left unregulated and unchecked runs wild, with the power and wealth compounding all the way. It is certainly not the level playing field ideal that it pretends to be. Because of this, globalisation has seen more wealth for fewer people - and poverty cycles even more firmly entrenched. I can only presume that people who endorse it are either cruel or stupid. Why do we have to assume that the choice is between rampant capitalism or choking communism - surely the politicians and economists can come up with a middle ground?
Wendy, UK

Globalisation is the way forward and the protesters should pull their head out of the sand. Although, we do need some sort of mechanism so that periodically we can take stock and stay within the moral values set by our liberal governments. For the people that protest on May Day for these 'poor' countries I suggest cutting off their benefits so they really know what it feels like to be poor and then offering them a job with MacDonalds after a year or so. I bet they would jump at the chance to earn money, and then again they would probably still prefer to be unemployed. Hmmm.....
Phil, Preston, England

It is time that all countries were given an equal voice on how the world is run

Janet, UK
All globalisation means to many is the US imposing its values, 'culture', produce and systems on the rest of the world whether we like it or not. It is time that all countries were given an equal voice on how the world is run.
Janet, UK

As long as there is a free movement of labour involved, instead of only money and goods (apart from positive aspects of it such as improving life quality, consumers' rights, health/education/legal aspects) globalisation has an important task for all nations.
Sancar Seckiner, Istanbul / Turkey

Keep things as they are. We donate enough to the poverty-stricken countries to keep them ticking over. These protesters should wake up to the real world and help boost the economy. Our taxes pay for these sorts of people to live.
Mark Blackburn, Essex, UK

It is quite possible globalisation is both. Let's be sure that it doesn't wind up promoting further erosion of freedom and national sovereignty, for if those two growing problems continue in concert with globalisation, it surely will be a mechanism of evil.
Stephen, US

Looking at statistics published last year after the London May Day protests the majority of these demonstrators are unemployed. Where was I on the May Day protests last year? I was working and paying my bit for that lot to be able to live. Get real. Anti-capitalism will never work.
Chris Gower, London, England

The US is now in a position of global, economic and political monopoly

Martina, UK
Capitalism is only good if there is strong and independent government, an independent judiciary, a socially inclusive government policy, and a country's right to self-determination. With the current US policy, many nations fall at the last hurdle to achieving good capitalism. A company that has a monopoly or near monopoly should be broken up. The US is now in a position of global economic and political monopoly.
Martina, UK

I wish to first thank the BBC for bringing this matter once again to the fore, because for quite some time now, Bush and his colleagues have sought to equate any voice of disagreement with their market fundamentalism with support for Bin Laden. Now to the question: As an African living in the West, I have come to see the hypocrisy behind the free-market mantra.

When it suited the Americans, for example, the New Deal (hardly a free market idea) was considered quite desirable, and rightly so, because it is the bedrock upon which much of America's prosperity now rests. By the same token, Western Europe would never have dreamt of becoming an economic giant without its wide-ranging set of welfare provisions, some of which would have put the old Soviet Union to shame.

What is revolting about globalisation therefore is the insistence (by these same Western leaders) on blind neo-liberal reforms in the developing world, with very little regard for the basic needs of the millions of its inevitable victims - the long-suffering poor. This in no way seeks to absolve African rulers of the effects of their deep-rooted contempt towards the basic needs of our people. It merely seeks to expose the perils of globalisation, and the hypocrisy behind it.
UE, UK/Nigeria

How can paying a worker around one dollar a day with few rights be good? If globalisation is going to be a force for the good, the multi-nationals need to act in a responsible manner by paying the workers reasonable wages and giving them proper working conditions.
Andrew C, Manchester, England

Globalisation is a great idea. World equality. Bring it on!
Paul Kenyon, Lancashire, England

If your country currently has the power to limit and control foreign investment and foreign ownership of its natural assets, what motive is there to give up that right?
Blewyn, Norwich, UK

Corruption, incompetence, and war are much more to blame than large companies

Tom, UK
I don't think that globalisation is the problem in many of these poor countries. I think that corruption, incompetence, and war are much more to blame than large companies.
Tom, UK

Who objects to world trade? The developing countries are all desperate to get involved in more global trade, and I've yet to see protests involving governments or significant numbers of people from such countries. The protesters are almost entirely from the industrialised nations, who are seeking to impose a new paternalistic imperialism on the developing countries on the basis that the protesters know best and that cutting developing countries off from global trade is "for their own good." Few if any of the protesters have ever been to a poor country, or known what it is to struggle, and they should be treated with the contempt their ignorant tantrums deserve.
Bernard, UK

It's not globalisation that is bad, just the way it's been managed

Gordon, London
All you have to do is look at the evidence. Any survey will show that those countries that have opened their markets to international trade have seen an increase in the living standards of their population (refer to The Economist, which has in the last six months analysed the results of such a survey). In the last 20 years think of Poland and even Spain, and more recently, countries in South East Asia. Take China, foreign firms came in ("stifling" domestic firms) and set up shop. They created employment and over time imparted their knowledge to local people.

Now these local people have the requisite skills (and accumulated capital base) to start their own business. Now there are obviously cases of exploiting child labour or paying very low wages, but again, over time, as these countries develop and so too do their laws and institutions these problems will disappear. What the world needs is MORE globalisation, more international trade.

And despite what most people believe, the US still has very high trade barriers in many industries, thereby hampering globalisation. The protesters should put their protesting skills to good use and demand that the US drops these trade barriers so that developing countries can compete on a level playing field, i.e. they should be protesting for more globalisation! Another thing they could do is lobby developing governments about their labour laws. This whole debate needs to be turned on its head, it's not globalisation that is bad, just the way it's been managed.
Gordon, London

As usual you will find the truth somewhere in between the two camps. There are benefits and pitfalls in globalisation, but one thing I will assure you of, is that globalisation is the way forward.
Michael, Dublin, Ireland

The major issue with globalisation is that corporate chairmen have power without representation. If we were to think of consumerism as a new political idea, corporate chairmen are the politicians, adverts the party broadcasts, and products the manifesto, then we live in a dictatorship. It is now impossible to vote a corporation out of power. This is fundamentally wrong, but no-one seems to realise it, as the anti-globalisation protesters are usually branded by the media as "anarchists" which lends to public perception of their issues as irrelevant, thus perpetuating consumerism and corporations.
Gareth Stevenson, Birmingham, UK

The chief problem with capitalism has never been that there were too few capitalists but that there have never been enough

T.J. Cassidy, US
Gareth Stevenson, Birmingham, UK, clearly has never heard of shareholders, the voting citizens of corporations. If he and his friends invest a little of their money in corporate stocks instead of protest placards they will have a greater voice with the boards of directors. It's called "shareholder activism." The chief problem with capitalism has never been that there were too few capitalists but that there have never been enough.
T.J. Cassidy, US

Gareth Stevenson makes a very well thought out argument comparing corporations with dictatorships. There's but one problem mate... Where you claim a corporation is a dictatorship because we can't vote them out of power, you're wrong. Instead of voting in a booth, you vote with your wallet. If you don't buy a company's goods, that company fails and thus is removed from power. It requires the will of the people...sadly, in this country at least it's totally lacking...maybe you're right after all Gareth?
KB, Kettering UK

In response to T.J. Cassidy, I think it is important to remember that shareholders of corporations are primarily fuelled by profit and return against investment. It would be unwise to confuse this with a political agenda, as we probably are all aware, no national government really holds any power over economics, and therefore its politics. Let us suggest that a number of large corporations issue profits warnings, an outcome is recession, this is a political result from a non-political source. A recession could have a destabilising effect on a number of world regions, which could lead to military conflict. (Sound familiar?) I as a constituent cannot vote that particular political effect out of power, as I am not a shareholder, but a citizen, this is fundamentally against democracy! When we all realise what the problem is, maybe we can fix it.
Gareth Stevenson, Birmingham, UK

Well there are a lot of stupid comments on here, aren't there? Some from morons who obviously read the tabloids and believe they tell the truth, some from people with the political awareness of a slug, and plenty from people who are simply selfish, and too stupid to even realise it. Martina says it right - capitalism only works with strong democratic controls. And that's the nub of the whole thing - globalisation puts life changing power into the hands of the unelected.

Not only are they unelected and unaccountable outside the corporate walls, but their entire purpose in business is to make profits for shareholders. What an inspiring thought - to think that whole economies, and millions of peoples lives, are at the beck and call of accountants. Globalised capital may deliver benefits to others from time to time, but the price is a massive loss of self determination.

If the human race cannot find better ways to organise than state controlled communism or rampant capitalism, it deserves to become extinct. We need to use our brains. Unlike a lot of the posters here, harping on about "work shy protesters", some of us are capable of rational thought. We should resist the sureptitious and creeping removal of our right to control our own lives at all costs.
Mark Studden, Bath UK

To Wendy: Capitalism evil? These anti-capitalist demonstrators tend to be lazy individuals who see their peers after many years of stressful hard work and endless graft do better than them financially. They enjoy themselves taking it easy off the back of them, and their jealousy manifests itself in wanting to take that hard earned capital away and "share" it. Now that's what I call real evil.
Andy, UK

I'd much rather trade with the developing world than just keep writing big cheques to them

Steve, England
I'd much rather trade with the developing world than just keep writing big cheques to them. As for the protesters, I find it amusing and ironic that people who pay nothing into the system want a say in how it's run.
Steve, England

Whatever globalisation may do to "developing" countries, it will certainly be a disaster for the majority of people in the western world. Britain's manufacturing base is rapidly being destroyed by footloose corporations shifting their capital to the "Third World". For now it is only the working class that suffers, but soon call centre jobs, software development and other middle class jobs will also migrate to countries like India. A globalised Britain will have a social profile like a developing country: a small incredibly wealthy and powerful elite, a highly skilled upper middle class of lawyers, media people etc. to serve them, and an increasingly marginalized mass driven into low paid shoeshine jobs.
Ian Sykes, Leeds, UK

Anti-globalisation activists are either pampered bourgeois youth who have enough in their trust funds to do nothing but travel to exotic destinations and protest, or selfish westerners, like Jose Bove, who are more interested in keeping the third world impoverished so that they can continue to receive unconscionably high agricultural subsidies. I look forward to many of these people being introduced to the New York Police Department and Rikers Island.
Philip, San Francisco, USA

Gareth from Birmingham, your analogy is a little confused. If countries were like corporations, they would be competing for the most talented citizens, and citizens would be free to vote with their feet if they did not approve of the way their country was being run. In fact, if countries were run more like corporations, all citizens would be better represented.
Guy Hammond, England

We need to constantly be aware of abuses by governments, industry, and financial institutions

Anthony, Germany (UK)
As usual, many people try to paint this issue black or white. In my opinion, the violent, destructive protests do nothing to help the cause of those who question just how far down the capitalist road we want to go. History in countries such as England, or modern examples from the developing world teach us that there really are ruthless capitalists who will stop at nothing in the name of profit. We need to constantly be aware of abuses by governments, industry, and financial institutions, otherwise they will destroy us and themselves. We should be working together to improve quality of life, which isn't helped by extremists on the left or right of the economic spectrum: Moderation please!
Anthony, Germany (UK)

Globalisation per se is neutral. It is merely a process of increasing trade between nations on earth. The mechanism by which this occurs and the terms agreed determine whether it is evil or a force for good. And no matter what mechanism you use, there will always be winners and losers. The winners will say it is a force for good, whilst the losers will say that it is evil. My own view: the media tend to hype up big macho males strutting their stuff before reluctant deb females, who feel coerced into giving out BJs in order to stay in with the rich/cool crowd. Which provides fuel for anti-globalisation protestors. But behind the scenes, an enormous number of successful trading arrangements are taking place, which will evolve in many cases into international trading marriages.

Some will be true partnerships, others dominatrix-slave, yet others apparently non-equal yet happily agreed to by both-or increasingly, multiple parties. I don't believe that I have benefitted personally from globalisation, but then an enormous number of cells are sacrificed within a foetus to allow the birth of a healthy baby....that's nature's way, for better or worse. But it certainly seems to me that the global trading mother is having morning sickness at present. Maybe in her darker moments, she's wondering about the abortion clinic down the road.
Rhys Jaggar, Manchester, England

So Mark Blackburn is happy to keep things as they are, so long as we throw enough charitable crusts to keep the poorer nations "ticking over". He also complains that his precious taxes are squandered on those who dare to protest because, of course, not one of them has a job. What a caring man he must be. It's that sort of arrogance and selfishness, at a national level, that ensures that a fortunate minority in this world will always receive, and waste, its wealth and resources, while many of the rest just struggle to stay alive.
Stella, UK

It's amusing to read the comments of the anti-globalisation crowd; they are an almost unreconstructed recitation of standard Marxist code words and phrases. The fact is, capitalism creates the most wealth for the greatest number. Marxism and its current incarnation, socialism, use more wealth than they create. This is exactly why the communist world crumbled and why Western Europe will be forced by economic reality to mend its ways during the next 20 years. The sins for which globalisation is blamed are rightly the sins of the supposed victims of globalisation, the developing world. The fact is, no matter how many jobs are created nor how much wealth produced, if you continue to overpopulate your country, rely of various forms of corrupt totalitarian governments, counter productive Marxist or quasi Marxist economics combined with authoritarian hierarchical forms of social organization you will stay poor. Those are the facts. All the street tantrums in the world will not change them.
W.H. Langeman, New Orleans, USA

The world is completely interdependent, notably through the instant speed of financial transactions, so globalisation is here, not an optional extra. Opponents will find their insular world no longer exists (try buying goods made only from British components!) Worse, bury your industry behind heavy protectionism and it becomes uncompetitive in the international market. If you want to export, you've got to import too (ask the Japanese!)
Andy Millward, Broxbourne, UK

Stella rightly says that greed and arrogance is a problem; however the governments themselves MUST shoulder some of the blame.
Johann Steyn, Pretoria, SA/Birmingham, England

Globalisation is nothing more than an attempt to entrench a world pecking order with the US at the top

Charles Moore, Edinburgh, Scotland
The term globalisation is misleading. It suggests, internationalism, the opening of borders. In fact it only means the internationalisation of trade and the gross inequalities this creates results in borders being slammed tighter shut against refugees from the resultant crushing poverty. This is because the "opening up" of trade usually results in the swamping of local markets; it results in governments being forced to withdraw social provision as the conditions for IMF aid; it results in quality controls, such as those that prevent the import of GM foods into Europe, being attacked as "restraint of trade" by the US. Globalisation is nothing more than an attempt to entrench a world pecking order with the US at the top.
Charles Moore, Edinburgh, Scotland

There is one example, which shows how the West views the developing world. Both Britain and the US make strenuous efforts to sell cigarettes to poor countries. Neither do they not give out health warnings against smoking as they do in their own countries. The developing nations need tobacco like a hole in the head. Imagine how their health services are going to cope in 20 years time with all the smoking related diseases we are imposing upon them. But of course then we can sell them expensive medicines that we have developed in the West. Doesn't it make you proud to be British!
Anthony, Reading, England

Well, having lost the BIG philosophical battle (communism), these protestors now call themselves "Greens", trying to achieve the same bankrupt goals through other means. This time, though, their arguments are even weaker ... if they really wanted to do some good, they'd be building schools and homes in developing countries rather than trashing McDonalds stores! Unfortunately for them, the developing countries want nothing to do with them ... but they can always go and join Al Qaeda, who apparently do support their views.
Mark M. Newdick, US/UK

Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute:
"Globalisation is a fairly slippery term"
Alison Marshall of the World Development Movement:
"The result that we are seeing is increasing inequality"
Rod Gomez in Puerto Rico:
"It has to be a social option"
Bill Langeman, of New Orleans in the USA:
"You cannot just blame globalisation for all the poverty in the world"
Ray Marcelo in New Delhi in India:
"There is increasing prosperity but it has to be spread out"
Selva Appasawmy in Mauritius:
"Modern capitalism has its roots in the system of slavery"
See also:

30 Jan 02 | Business
World Economic Forum gears up
22 Jan 02 | Business
Global investment almost halves
17 Jan 02 | Business
World inequality rises
17 Jan 02 | Business
OECD sees global recovery in 2002
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