You are on page 1of 6

Christian Response to Globalization

A Schematic Overview and Outline Globalization domination of other nations (chauvinism) Globalization Nationalism national freedom & sovereignty (patriotism) imperialism internationalism Imperialism = Domination of other nations
________________________________________________________

Internationalism = National freedom & sovereignty

Types of Christian Responses Un-Christian Accommodation Collaboration Christian Prophetic Apocalyptic

Imperialist Globalization -- a historical process that (a) follows certain laws of development and (b) requires human intervention. Or it is both an objective and a subjective process. A. Basic features: 1. Geopolitical expansionism and cultural homogenization it has a tendency to expand its territorial and political influence beyond its internationally defined boundaries; it also seeks to create a homogenous culture in lieu of the diverse cultures of the world. 2. Compulsion of a historical impulse it is driven by an impulse that is conditioned by a specific set of social forces at a given historical period. 3. Controlled by a vital center with military, economic and technological superiority. B. Brief historical review of imperialist globalization. 1. Ancient empires driven by the impulse of the slave market, the demand for slave labor to sustain its over-extended economy and massive building projects. Cultural homogenization, in Alexanders time, took the form of Hellenization of indigenous cultures and, under Rome, the transformation of local modes of governance to Roman law and order. 2. Pre-modern colonialism the search for gold and oriental merchandize, and the reli-

gious homogenization (Christian or Islamic) of conquered peoples. 3. Modern imperialism and globalization impulse to control the world market for surplus commodities and capital; technological homogenization, such as the replacement of indigenous games with electronic games and gadgets. C. Impact on client countries/economies the principles of global competitiveness, comparative advantage, even playing field in practice apply only to the labor and raw material markets rather than to the commodity and financial markets. 1. With very little national savings and lack of technological capability but with a great abundance of labor, client economies compete with one another in offering the cheapest labor. The Filipino working class simply cannot compete with their Indonesian and Chinese counterparts. 2. To earn more foreign exchange for imports of industrial parts and raw materials, client economies are compelled to allow overexploitation of critical resources leading to the rapid degradation of the natural environment. 3. Plagued with chronic budget deficits, governments make severe cuts in spending for social services in order to service debt repayments. The citizens health and well being deteriorate, the standard of education goes down, infrastructures suffer neglect, etc. 4. The gap between rich and poor gets wider and wider and more people join the ranks of the poor. Injustice and inequity lead people to crime or rebellion. Scarce government resources get diverted to contain crime and suppress rebellious elements. D. Types of Christian Responses to Globalization. 1. Un-Christian responses those that are manifestly opposed to Scripture and Christian tradition. a. Accommodation, the new heresy or the teaching of half-truths globalization is justified by citing its good side, such as the advantages of technology, medical science, etc., as though these are equal in weight to its bad side. b. Collaboration, the new idolatry or elevating an earthly object to the level of the divine globalization is interpreted as a manifestation of the unfolding of Gods kingdom on earth. 2. Christian responses those that correspond to the biblical witness and sound Christian ethics. a. Prophetic critical approach to globalization in the aspects of (a) ideology, (b) care for the environment, and (c) concern for human welfare and well being. This is the emerging stand of the World Council of Churches and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC). b. Apocalyptic comprehensive opposition and resistance to globalization, and the search for a viable alternative in accordance with the tenets of the Christian faith. This is the position of the leadership of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.
-------------------------Rev. Everett Mendoza, D. Theol. Silliman University Divinity School Dumaguete City, Philippines

Christian Response to Globalization Introduction: Asia is a land where tradition continues to play a decisive role in shaping social behavior. But perhaps not for long. A phenomenon that is sweeping the whole world today seems bent on remaking Asia by overcoming traditional determinants of behavior. This is the phenomenon of globalization. Its advance, however, is not left unchallenged. Unwittingly, globalization has touched a nerve that is deeply rooted in peoples history and culture. They begin to rediscover who they are, how they became a nation and, more importantly, a sense of destiny. This collective sentiment is, at once, a deep affection for native land and people, and a profound anger against alien forces that threaten their existence. Ethnic or racial nationalism, either in its spontaneous or organized forms, is a force that stands in the way of globalizations further advance around the world. Mass media, however, is quick to say that racial nationalism is an obstacle, a menace to world peace and the establishment of a borderless world that is free and prosperous. No effort is spared to extol the wisdom of globalization and the folly of nationalism. My purpose is to help us examine the social reality from the perspective of ethnic nationalism, and then look into its ethical implications in the light of the Christian faith. Im taking a position that is not entirely neutral, which is perhaps unusual of a university professor. I have seen the effects of globalization to our land and people. And my Christian faith compels me to understand their suffering and struggles from where they are. This presentation is an involved discussion of what globalization is and how may Christians respond to it I The phenomenon of globalization is most fully understood in relation to ethnic nationalism. Although we shall not be talking about nationalism as such, it informs everything that we say about globalization. Globalization and nationalism are the two principal social tendencies throughout the history of human civilization. It is important, though, to recognize two distinctions within globalization as well as nationalism. Globalization may either take the form of imperialism or the opposite form of internationalism. In contrast to imperialist globalization, which will be dealt with more extensively shortly, internationalism refers to a commonwealth of nationalities that is founded on the principles of the right to national self-determination and of equal relations. On the other hand, nationalism has also two distinct forms: chauvinism or the tendency of a nation to dominate other nations, and patriotism or the struggle for national freedom and sovereignty against imperialist globalization. As you can see, imperialist globalization corresponds to chauvinism, whereas internationalism corresponds to patriotism. In other words, behind the face of an imperialist is a chauvinist, while a patriot is at the same time an internationalist. Now, to the main subject of this lecture. Imperialist globalization is a historical process that follows certain laws of development and that requires human intervention. It is therefore both an objective and a subjective process. Objectively, it means that globalization is a product of social forces that operate outside human conscious control. For example, the merger of big corporations into mega corporations is a matter of course in accordance with the behavior of international capital. It is also subjective in the sense that decisions are made by free rational human beings. Those who wish to challenge globalization must have both knowledge of the way things work and moral courage to take bold action. Imperialist globalization is a new phenomenon but its essence is as old as civilization itself. It has taken the forms of the ancient empires, of pre-modern colonialism and of modern imperialism. But

these historical forms have the same essential features. First, it tends towards geopolitical expansionism and cultural homogenization. It realizes itself through a process of integrating geopolitical entities into its system by direct conquest for by means of one-sided and onerous economic, political and military agreements. In addition it seeks to create a homogenous culture from out of the diverse cultures of peoples under its control or influence. This process of cultural assimilation extends its domination of others up to the level of consciousness, beliefs and habits. Second, it is driven by an impulse that is conditioned by a specific set of social forces at a given historical period. This historical compulsion provides the reason for its expansionist behavior. And third, the whole imperial enterprise is controlled from a center that possesses military, economic and technological superiority. Its earliest precursors, the ancient empires, were driven by the impulse to secure slave labor to sustain their over-extended economy and massive building projects. In Alexanders time, cultural homogenization took place as the Hellenization of the so-called barbarians; under Rome, local modes of governance were uprooted and replaced with Roman law and order. In the last half of the 16th century, just before the onset of the modern period, the ruling monarchs of Spain, Portugal and Holland sent the conquistadors across the vast oceans in search of gold and oriental merchandize coveted by the noble families. Colonialism also allowed Christian as well as Islamic missionaries to practice wholesale conversions of people from the old religions. In the 19th century, modern imperialism occupied lands in Asia and Africa in order to control the world market for surplus commodities and capital. Industrial capitalist countries were producing more goods than their own people could consume, hence the scramble for territories. Imperialist globalization represents the highest development of modern imperialism. Cultural homogenization comes in the form of electronic gadgets and devices that have replaced much of indigenous toys, games and other articles of recreation. II For the first time in human history, the whole world has been transformed into one huge market. It encircles the world from three global centers the United States, Japan and Europe. This has been achieved in the last decade due to a number of factors, among which are the following: 1) the collapse of the Soviet Union and the elimination of the socialist challenge, which provided the ideological ground to bring the whole world into the orbit of capitalism; 2) the denationalization of nation-states through the World Bank/IMF imposed structural adjustment programs, which facilitated the rapid economic integration of neo-colonial economies; 3) a new technological revolution (computer and information technology) that supplied the technological facility for the rapid movement and integration of finance capital around the globe. Imperialist globalization has created more wealth than ever before. Financially poor countries with backward technology join in hoping to get a share and afraid of being left out. They try very hard to learn to play the rules of global competitiveness, comparative advantage and even playing field. The rules of the game require that they (1) remove all trade barriers that protect local industries, (2) minimize government regulation of the economy, and (3) allow the takeover of government enterprises by private companies. Little did they realize that the principles of global competitiveness, comparative advantage and even playing field in practice apply only to the labor and raw material markets rather than to the com-

modity and financial markets. In their own country, small and medium entrepreneurs find their market shrinking fast as their traditional clientele go after cheaper goods with foreign brands. Huge supermarkets and shopping malls begin to crowd out family-owned business enterprises. In reality, globalization has not paid off for them. What effects does imperialist globalization have on less developed economies? 1. With very little national savings and lack of technological capability but with a great abundance of labor, client economies compete with one another in offering the cheapest labor. The Filipino working class simply cannot compete with their Indonesian and Chinese counterparts. 2. To earn more foreign exchange for imports of industrial parts and raw materials, client economies are compelled to allow overexploitation of critical resources leading to the rapid degradation of the natural environment. 3. Plagued with chronic budget deficits, governments make severe cuts in spending for social services in order to service debt repayments. The citizens health and well being deteriorate, the standard of education goes down, infrastructures suffer neglect, etc. 4. The gap between rich and poor gets wider and wider and more people join the ranks of the poor. Injustice and inequity lead people to crime or rebellion. Scarce government resources get diverted to contain crime and suppress rebellious elements. III Seeing how the people, particularly the poor, have suffered the church hears the Lord calling Christians to take a stand on the side of the victims of imperialist globalization. But first, it must speak against voices within the church that betray the truth of the gospel according to the Scriptures and Christian tradition. Some voices counsel accommodation to imperialist globalization. They try to justify it by citing its good side, such as the advantages of technology, medical science, etc. as though these are equal in weight to its bad side. This position may be considered a new heresy for teaching half-truths. Others favor collaboration with imperialist globalization, calling it a manifestation of the unfolding of Gods kingdom on earth. This is a new form of idolatry in as much as it comprises the standards of Gods kingdom to make them fit a human enterprise. A faithful Christian response is one that corresponds to the biblical witness and to sound Christian ethics. There are two models of Christian response that have emerged ecumenical church bodies. 1. The first has developed from studies made in the World Council of Churches and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. A WCC document regards globalization as an inescapable fact of life, while WARCs Background Papers, No. 1, refers to a consensus that regards the markets as essential to the management and distribution of resources. Underlying these statements is the belief that there is no historical alternative to imperialist globalization. The church must therefore accept it and learn to live under it while seeking creative and practical ways of confessing the faith. At the same time, this option includes a critical prophetic stance towards the vision, philosophy, logic and manifestations of globalization. Thus the WCC instructs the faithful not to subject [themselves] to the vision behind it. It also urges churches to challenge the logic of globalization and to resist the unilateral domination of economic and cultural globalization. WARC calls upon member churches to confess the faith and make their witness in ways that (1) affirm Gods sovereignty over all spheres of life, including the economy; (2) oppose the exclusion of some people, groups or nations from the economy; (3) lead people to care for the natural environment; and finally (4) point to the true function of the economy to serve the well-being of all creation. 2. Another model of faithful Christian response may be called the apocalyptic model. It is a

comprehensive opposition and resistance to globalization and the search for a viable alternative in accordance with the tenets of the Christian faith. This model goes beyond questioning imperialist globalizations ideological foundation to seeking new paradigms that lie outside or beyond it. Instead of accepting it as an inescapable reality and trying to find ways of correcting its mistakes and making it work for good, it attempts to envision and build an entirely different reality. This option is favored by leading figures in the National Council of Churches and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. Conclusion: the two Christian options remind us of the Jewish exiles in Babylon. Some of them got integrated in the empire but discovered ways of practicing the Jewish faith despite the risks involved. The legendary hero, Daniel, exemplifies this option. Perhaps the WCC and WARC position comes close to it. But a small minority among the exiles continued yearning and waiting for the time to return to the homeland. They did not accept the situation as final and inescapable. Their faith in Yahweh, their God, taught them to hope for the day when they would return to Jerusalem. And God vindicated their hope. Christians in the Philippines who take the apocalyptic model have found inspiration in the Remnants of Israel who never gave up on God. Rev. Everett Mendoza, D. Theol. Silliman University Divinity School Dumaguete City, Philippines ------------------------------------------------------------------Main reference materials on globalization: Brecher, Jeremy and Tim Costello, editors. Global Village or Global Pillage. Cambridge, Mass: South End Press, 1998. Mander, Jeremy and Edward Goldsmith, editors. The Case Against the Global Economy. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1996.