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Why does Vandana Shiva describe economic globalization as a "normative" and "political" process in Ecological Balance in an Era of Globalization? What negative consequences does the latest wave of...

Why does Vandana Shiva describe economic globalization as a "normative" and "political" process in Ecological Balance in an Era of Globalization? What negative consequences does the latest wave of globalization have, and how does Shiva denounce these?

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First, let's take a look at Vandana Shiva herself. She is a philosopher and environmental activist from India with a particular interest in the effects of globalization on cultures and ecosystems. Why is this important to note? To take a critical view, one must always know that background and potential biases of the person making the assertion. This background does not make her argument correct or incorrect, but does give us an idea of her where she's coming from when examining her point of view. Her focus is not on the money-making aspect of global trade, but rather its human impact.

Specifically, Shiva states, in the article "Ecological Balance in an Era of Globalization," that the process of globalization is redefining what we accept as "normal" in trade between countries and what the goal of that trade should be. While in the past, governments attempted to regulate trade for the benefit of their country's industry over those of other countries (with an eye toward local employment and improving the standard of living,)  after about 1995, things shifted. The political organizations of the world became more beholden to corporate interests and began to establish a global trade structure that benefited large corporations over the citizenry. She cites the GATT and WTO as examples whereby agreements were made that put corporate greed over sustainability and justice. 

In this latest wave of globalization, Shiva sees three major, negative impacts:

  1. The rise of the corporation--Governments are allowing corporations to "call the shots" on things like health care, the environment, education, and food production. These are all things that used to be spearheaded by political mechanisms. As evidence, she cites examples such as the public domain seizure of private property in Texas for the expansion of a mall and the bulldozing of houses in Detroit for factory expansion.
  2. Environmental apartheid--Whereas in the past, developed countries were the major source of environmental pollution, globalization has allowed "first world" countries to ship polluting production methods overseas as a way to keep their local environments cleaner. 
  3. Environmental dumping--Just as bad, "first world" countries are simply transporting the toxic wastes produced locally overseas with the idea that the people in the poorer countries have bigger problems to worry about and will accept the waste in return for payment. 

Shiva's ideal solution to this situation would be for governments to be able to stand up to corporate interests and establish sustainable, just policies, but she recognizes that this is unlikely. Instead, she sees a more localized effort as being effective. She sees small communities standing up for their rights against large, federal bureaucracy. These local communities can then exert control over their local affairs and resist corporate control.

The symbol of this desire is the humble seed.  She sees native seeds a small but powerful and life bringing. She has begun a "Seed Satyagraha" (struggle for truth) to preserve native seeds. In an era in which even seeds can be patented, Shiva sees free and natural seeds as a way to empower Indians to retain control of their destiny through local control and sustainable agricultural practices.  

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