Michael Divine

Writings :


Globalization, Capitalism, and the Magic Kingdom

Globalization is a movement - a force - that is sort of rolling along and, at this point, cannot be stopped, whether or not protestors want to admit it or not. If you use the internet, look for deals on things from far away, read blogs by Indian authors, enjoy Manga comics, anything really - then you are a part of it as well and to look backwards is to get nostalgic for a cultural museum. I bring this up because I've been reading a very interesting and illuminating book on the topic. I can't say I agree with everything the author has to say and it is certainly coming from the direction of the more right-wing Republican doctrine of less government/tariffs/trade restrictions - more free market economy than I can agree with - but it puts forth a lot of interesting information that is helpful in illuminating how we got to where we are in this economic "meltdown" today.

The book is called "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" by Thomas L. Friedman and was published in 2000. Friedman draws some very clear parallels between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Communist structure and the rise of the internet and the global marketplace. In a post-WWII/Cold War world, markets were closed off to one another, communication was limited, and countries were able to put safe curtains around themselves. You never knew what was going on in another country, other than what your government told you and, as far as they were concerned, you were better off because of that. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the opening up of communication lines between nations, investors and individuals, people began to realize that they could expand their trade and, subsequently, improve their lives. We might want to say - oh the Amazon tribe or the African Bushman is better off without the TV or the cell phone or the computer but that is only because we have some kind of retrospective thinking and, while we are immersed in it one way or the other, the more technologically advanced cultures want to keep these "cultural museums". As he says:

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Mount San Jacinto

I left Violet at the lodge where her other philosophy friends from UCSD and UCI were having a sort of informal conference and drove up the road a piece to the Fuller Ridge Trail - drove up a twisting dirt road and parked at a gate. I started hiking... p and up. Into the still silence of nature abounding where there is no stillness but no incongruous sound, nothing is out of place. Bird song, bird answer. A woodpecker in the distance and another bird that zooms past me at breakneck speed. I sat for a while. Feeling my heart beating. My breath breathing. My joints and fingers and feet.

I hiked further and higher... into groves of towering Douglas Firs with long striations of bark in several dozen shades of brown and red and tan. I stood up close to it, my face inches from the bark and breathed in the musky woody scent, mingled with the cold mountain air. I felt it's tall peace and, as I stood there, felt myself - the roots and branches and leaves and fruits of my being stretching to the sun and the center of the earth. Maybe I looked like the "tree-hugger" type but that is such a misunderstood idea. A "tree-hugger" gets hugged back as well - but beyond that I felt like i was meditating there with this tree that was more than several hundred years old. It's bark attested to fires and storms that it has weathered - knobs and gnarls of knotted wood giving away where a brach was blown free in the wintertime and charred edges and the center charring - a tunnel within the tree that has been charred and blackened. I felt it and tasted it and thanked it. And moved on. I stuck my hand in the snow and stopped now and again to let my footsteps catch up with myself. And in that moment - the moment of being caught up - i found a center - and ever evolving moving changing and constant center.

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The New Egypt: The Dark Side of Dubai

They say that Egypt was built on the backs of slaves for rich and powerful pharoahs. We marvel at their feats. These days, rising out of the desert, Dubai glistens like some sort of mirage in the desert. It too is a city being built on the backs of slaves, quite literally. over 300,000 slaves to be exact. Working and toiling under the ho desert sun, not begin paid, fed barely enough to survive... for the Shiek. Not much different than the ancient Egypt we learn about. And who is to stop it? It seems the slowly crumbling world economy is grinding the building and construction to a halt but...

Learn more here: The Dark Side of Dubai

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Consciousness as a “Business Model”

I was recently talking with a friend about a few different businesses he is involved with. I'm not going to say what businesses or which friend as I don't want to personalize it or create a sense of scapegoating. One business he spoke of as having a model based on a local/eco-friendly approach. Conversely, other business interests of his had no such vision. In this case the local/eco-friendly approach is done based simply on economic sense. People like to pay a higher price for the local/eco-friendly business instead of from a different business that doesn't take the same sustainable approach. Being eco-friendly, in this case, is a matter of capitalist convenience. If more product could be sold by not being eco-friendly, such as other business interests of this same person, then there wouldn't be a point in being eco-friendly in the first place.

It's difficult for me to want to support such businesses. I have various reasons for wanting to support local, eco-friendly businesses when I can and if it's not a local business then I hope for it to be conscious about it's environmental impact and ecological footprint. The world is getting more crowded every day with fewer natural resources to sustain our consumption heavy lifestyles and the effects of our rampant consumerism are being felt in every corner of the globe. To take responsibility for this and change our business practices because it makes ethical sense rather than business sense is an important distinction.

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