Globalization and the Good
GLOBALIZATION AND THE GOOD
Edited by Peter HeslamWe are against poverty and injustice; surely this means we must resist globalization?
Was not the impressive coalition against world debt which was Jubilee 2000 a stand against globalization? Peter Heslam, an Anglican priest who teaches at the London institute for Contemporary Christianity and at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, and is Convenor of Just Share, an ecumenical consortium that engages senior business and government with the ethics of economic globalization, has edited a stimulating and readable collection of essays exposing the dangers of oversimplification. Rowan Williams comments on the cover that the book 'represents the views of some of the leading spokespeople on the issue'. He welcomes it wholeheartedly. There is plenty of literature and polemic about globalization and the iniquities of multi-national corporations. A refreshing element of this small volume (a mere 137 pages) is testing the economic and ethical arguments of both sides against scripture - not only the call to help the poor (the second most prominent theme in the Old Testament after idolatry, according to Jim Wallis) but the call for us to take risks with our possessions (see the Parable of the Talents) and the need for a robust theology of, and involvement with, human development. The corruption of Ahab was opposed from the outside by Elijah, but also from the inside by Obadiah. Several of the contributors focus on the underlying problem as one of relationships. Michael Schluter of the Jubilee Centre is particularly clear on this - and of the subterfuges resulting from limited liability law, distorted by the 'principalities and powers' (Eph 6: 12), releasing greed, self-interest, corruption - all of which find an answer in the Gospel. Ann Pettifor of the New Economics Foundation describes the challenge as 'putting human rights before money rights'. As Readers, we pride ourselves as being interpreters of the real world as opposed to bemusement with the ecclesiastical hothouse. Economics and the environment do not respect national boundaries. Do we have a Christian understanding of this? Heslam's book could be a good start.
Reviewed by Sam Berry