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Friday, November 2, 2012

Global Effects, Local Votes

As Joseph Stiglitz has recently argued, the US election has very wide-ranging implications for the rest of the world. The US is, clearly, a military, technological, economic and political superpower, and a very meddlesome one at that. It is one of the historical inadequacies of what is conventionally referred to as "global governance" that powers that can have long and determinate impact on the lives of people world-wide are governed by a tiny (in the case of the US, smaller than 5%) minority who constitute their citizenry.

But the US is by far not the only such case. By the same token, China, India, Russia, Germany, Britain, France, not to mention the supra- and pseudo-state of the EU itself, are all political powers that have a decisive influence on the world. Come to think of it, even small(er) size may not prevent states from influencing life for huge numbers of people beyond their borders.

But even that's not all. States (and the EU) are not the only large actors with a global impact. Corporations have, clearly, a similar impact, especially if they are large, if they have unique technologies that are in great demand (e.g., pharmaceutical molecules), if they are able to control important resources (from oil through gas and, increasingly, drinking water), or if they are able to influence people's ways of thinking without most of them even noticing, like the media, especially the commercial visual media, or (what is increasingly overlapping with the former), the entertainment industry.

I hate to say this: I have no idea how to fix these concentrations of power with no public supervision.

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cover page of the book

cover page of the book
image used for the cover design by Anannya Dasgupta