According to the book Disposable People, is the continued existence of slavery related to globalization?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bales' work makes the argument that globalization has hastened the process by which enslavement happens.  Bales suggests that the main attributes of globalization have been coopted by forces that seek to enslave others in order to maximize profits for themselves. Globalization has resulted in a borderless world, where products and profit flow freely without much in way of government intervention and oversight.  It is a mentality in which profit becomes the driving force at the cost of all else.  (One need only be reminded this in the midday lunch scheme in Bihar, India, where profit and self- gain subsumed public health, resulting in the death of over 20 children.) The capitalist system that nearly all participants in globalization have embraced is in different forms in different parts of the world. As long as the issue of human enslavement and trafficking for profit is shifted to parts of the world that are only now emerging to capitalism and thus its economic and ethical limits, profit can be maximized in short term gain of the few at the long term loss of others.  It is in this condition where globalization has resulted in human enslavement.  Many have come to seen the massive profits in a globalized world as beneficial and will not relent how they get their profit without incredible resistance.

Within such a condition, Bales argues that globalization has helped to continue enslavement and exploitation.  Globalization has facilitated human enslavement in emerging economic settings because these are the individuals who are trapped in the desire for profit.  Bales points to people in developing economic structures such as Pakistan, India, and Thailand as being trapped by globalization.  Liberation leads to economic disenfranchisement, a condition in which the limited material benefits are often chosen over the long term and complex condition of being free.   Bales also suggests that globalization enables this enslavement in Western nations.  Western nations and its citizens become so accustomed to globalization, embracing capitalism and being unwilling to scrutinize the conditions of enslavement that "myopia" and "numbness" allow to exist.  Confronted with the horrors of enslavement, consumers in the West are not being conditioned and encouraged to speak out, thereby continuing the enslavement to continue.  "Big profits" have led to "cheap lives" in which enslavement starts and is perpetuated. Bales argues that globalization has become a context in which where "efficiency is allowed to override responsibility and decency on a global scale."  In order for such a condition to change, people have to be willing to critically assess whether enslavement is a component that they wish to have in their economic systems.

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