Sun Apr 16th, 2006 at 12:49:56 PM EST
As in the US, fewer people in Europe are reading a daily paper, and papers are feeling the pinch. Also, media groups are consolidating and combining--i.e. radio with press, television, Internet, etc.
To a great extent, only somewhat, if at all, later, the corporate trends in the US are being vigorously pressed in Europe, all as part of what is presented with tremendous consistency and repetition in influential mass-media news reportage as the inevitable progress of globalization.
Why? One leading reason, I believe, is that to an extent almost inconceivable only a generation ago, the world--not only the formal business-world but the world of all manner of trained professionals--has come under the influence of a single, coherent and forceful set of intellectual priorities--called variously, but amounting to economistic imperatives--and this, simply because now, to an extent never before seen, corporations of all sorts are peopled so heavily in their upper-management ranks by holders of a Masters of Business administration degree (with the Ph.D. of Business Administration perhaps already close on its heels). One of the prime driving forces of globalization are the legions of these MBA graduates whose training encourages them to adopt and rely upon a set of habits of intellectual analysis notable for their abstract character and their narrow focus upon traditionally-defined private corporate business priorities. Rather than indoctrinating students with selected predetermined answers to particular issues in economics and management, MBAs learn the subtler art of "thinking like a" : chief financial officer or director of human resources, or managing director, etc. The result is a commonly-shared set of points of view which are rigorously reductive and tend to preclude from the outset a consideration of other arguably worthy but competing interests.
One of the most important things we can do is to come to see clearly what this mindset entails in its uncritically-accepted assumptions about society and economics.
some recommended reading (for francophones)
Dé-penser l'économique : Contre le fatalisme, by Alain Caillé, Paris, 2005, La Découverte/M.A.U.S.S. ; isbn: 2 7071 4518 1
or, roughly: "De-think(ing) the economic: Against fatalism."
and, for anglophone readers, I recommend as a substitute starting-point something I've yet to read:
The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies published by W.W. Norton (US) and Routledge (UK). orig. in french: "Essai sur le don. Forme et raison de l'échange dans les sociétés archaïques» (1923-1924)
Much, if not, indeed all, of the source of the constant drumbeat of "It's inevitable! Surrender to the tide of economic globalization!" comes from entirely questionable beliefs currently taught as the reigning "economistic" paradigm in MBA programs world-wide in which, among other things, that which cannot be reduced to a quantifiable monetary value is treated as secondary or as liable to being simply dismissed as irrelevant to decisive factors of decision-making and priority-setting.
That is not to say, of course, that MBAs are simply and plainly brain-washed, incapable of critical thinking about the things they're given to believe. However, the pressure to conform to the reigning economic paradigms --including a strong presumption that all values are, by definition, reducible to their simple monetary market-value--does not invite openly and vigorously bucking these articles of corporate faith nor is that a course which one should expect to lead to promotion along the ladder of corporate success. MBAs, too, have to repay their loans and get a job and, of course, being in an MBA program in the first place indicates some predisposition to accept the doctrines being taught.
Finally, there is, I think, immense acceptance, unthinking or little-challenged acceptance of certain economic assumptions (which form the core of corporate priorities making globalization an imperative) on the part of the vast majority of Americans (and, now more and more Europeans) who, frankly, have never been seriously invited to consider anything else. Second only to faith in the Christian God and in Jesus, comes an american faith in the all-powerful tenets of business enterprise and the supposed mainly benevolent "free market". It's our mother's milk!
To rethink all of this and to question and challenge it for ourselves and to prompt those around us to do the same is an inescapable part of any agenda which would offer a future promising anything beyond what the corporate directors tell us is worthy and desirable (for us).
Step # 1: When they tell you, "It's inevitable!", don't believe them, and ask, "Why, please, is it 'inevitable' if we all choose otherwise?"
That's the least we're entitled to demand.
MBA-degree-holders: your comments, criticisms, are particularly invited here; agree, disagree?