ow Globalization Works:
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas (TMMTX) -- A Case Study
by Richard D. VogelModern economic class struggle, the unremitting, sometimes hidden, sometimes open, fight between capitalists and workers that erupted in the 19th century and dominated the 20th, is taking on new forms and dimensions in the 21st century.The stakes of this continuing conflict are higher than they have ever been. Every aspect of human life on earth is changing at an unprecedented rate, and three overriding trends that will affect the lives of everyone on the planet are now confirmed beyond any reasonable doubt.1 These three trends are: * Increasing globalization * Rising local, regional, and global inequality and growing absolute poverty -- all factors that intensify political conflict * Massive, irreversible, and, probably, catastrophic environmental damagecaused by unregulated economic activityThese three megatrends are interrelated -- all of them are exacerbated by unrestrained free trade capitalism which relentlessly exploits resources and people for profit. The free trade policies adopted after World War II and reinforced in the 1980s have led to the present level of globalization that is stressing the resources and people of the world.Globalization is the domination of the world economy by multinational corporations through the imposition of free trade policies and practices. Increasing globalization has been the prevailing form of capitalist expansion for the last 30 years and will intensify, along with the consequent rising inequality and environmental damage, as long as free trade policies continue unchecked.Like all capitalist ventures, globalization has produced winners and losers. The winners have been few -- the owners and agents of big capital -- while small capitalists, labor, working-class communities, and the environment have clearly been the losers. The trends of rising local, regional, and global inequality and of growing absolute poverty that have produced political crises worldwide and massive and irreversible environmental damage so severe that it has triggered global climate change are direct consequences of these years of increasing globalization.Confronting globalization and its negative consequences is the most crucial political challenge of the 21th century.__________What Is Globalization?Capitalism's insatiable need for new markets and the more thorough exploitation of existing ones in order to maximize profits is the driving force of globalization. For three decades, this imperative has been accommodated by bi-lateral and multi-lateral free trade agreements (FTAs) by which nations open their domestic markets (including labor markets) to each other. Under free trade covenants, countless local and national industries have been supplanted by mammoth multinational firms that utilize their inordinate economic power to promote policies that consolidate their dominant position.Although globalization is often used as a buzzword, it has a very specific operational definition. Globalization refers to clearly identifiable networks of institutions and policies that facilitate the successful exploitation of communities and nations and their resources by multinational corporations. In order to successfully challenge globalization and dismantle the institutions and policies that have enabled it, a solid understanding of how globalization works is imperative. And although there are countless globalization schemes in operation around the world, the study of a single, representative case can reveal the basic mechanisms of globalization and suggest various strategies of resistance.Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas (TMMTX) offers an excellent case study.Why TMMTX?TMMTX, a division of Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing, North America (TEMA), is a Texas-based subsidiary of the Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan (TMC). TMC, the seventh largest company in the world and the second largest manufacturer...
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