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GLOBAL CITIES FOR GLOBAL CORPORATIONS

 

 

 

Patrick Wood
September 1, 2005
NewsWithViews.com

The United Nations Population Division predicts that, for the first time in human history, the number of urban dwellers will equal the number of rural dwellers in 2007.

For less developed nations, it is expected that sixty percent of the world's population will live in cities by the year 2030. Virtually all of the predicted population increase during this time will be absorbed by urban areas.

In more advanced countries however, seventy five percent of the population already lived in urbana in the year 2000. This is expected to increase to eighty-four percent by the year 2030.

Another source shows the relative percentage growth between MDN (More Developed Nations), LDN (Less Developed Nations) and the world in totality.

Like it or not, the world is going urban. It's where the action is. It's also where the global corporations are.

In the last ten years, there has been a plethora of think-tank papers extolling the virtues of the Global City's* need to support the process of globalization, and in particular, the global corporation. Very few outside of academia ever see these papers, much less have any idea of what these people are talking about in relative obscurity.

This writer can say this with complete confidence: "What you might think Global City refers to is totally wrong."

[* For the purpose of this article, Global City is capitalized to distinguish its use from any other context of city, i.e., it does not refer to "world-class city", very large cities, etc. The specific concept is developed in this article.]

What problems can the Global City solve?

The picture is unveiled more quickly if you play devil's advocate and put yourself in the shoes of a CEO of a major global company. Would you like to pretend you are CEO of IBM, for instance?

IBM has 319,000 employees scattered across dozens of countries throughout the world. They have manufacturing plants in at least 12 countries: U.S., Mexico, Canada, Ireland, France, Scotland, Germany, Hungary, Japan, China, India, Thailand and Singapore.

As CEO, you have to continuously shuttle key employees from country to country. People in China must correspond and interact with people in Mexico, etc. Laws must be obeyed in all countries you operate in. High-speed internet must connect every office and employee so that anyone can work from anywhere, if necessary. Making a phone call to an employee based in Germany but temporarily in Thailand, must find him in Thailand just as easily as though he were in Germany.

Since IBM is so culturally diverse, then anywhere IBM has employees is immediately diverse as well. A mainland China employee visiting the New York office does not just flip a switch and become americanized overnight. No, for the few days he visits New York, his time clock remains on Chinese time and his mind and body remain in Chinese culture.

As a company, you also have a need to quickly transfer large sums of capital from one country to another, to fulfill various projects and investment requirements. When a merger takes place, who does the accounting? Accounting practices in China are very different than in Mexico. Who handles legal cases when locations in two or more countries are involved?

Multiply these problems by 319,000 employees plus divisions and subsidiaries, and you have a huge a problem.

What you wish for are "base" cities that can maintain any and all cultures on demand, at the same time, and with total transparency in communications with every other employee in the world. You wish that these "global cities" were all alike so that your traveling execs and engineers could travel anywhere in the world and have the same experience. It wouldn't matter if you were in Mexico City or Moscow... everything works the same way.

A microcosm of this idea is always staying with the same hotel chain when you travel around the U.S. All Embassy Suite hotels, for instance, look the same, have the same features, the same procedures, etc. If you have stayed in one Embassy Suite anywhere, you have stayed in them everywhere! You know exactly what to expect regardless of the city you are in.

Another close example is the large shopping mall that is ever present in most American cities. Whether you visit a mall in Atlanta or Spokane, you will find the familiar chain-operated stores, similar designs, etc.

Thus, we have the birth of the Global City that will ostensibly serve the Global Corporation and their Global Employees!

Enter the Global City

Study Project 32 of the Globalization and World Cities Study Group & Network (GaWC) precisely defines the World City (synonymous with Global City),

"World cities are defined in this study as ‘global service centers’ that provide international financial and business services through specific labor market processes. The advanced producer firms (e.g. in accountancy and in law) provide these services through their worldwide networks of offices. It is through intra-firm connections in devising ‘seamless’ global services for clients that ‘global service firms’ link cities together in a world city network. Specifically this is an ‘interlocking network’ in which the service firms and their labor market practices are the ‘interlockers’ creating a worldwide network of global service centers (Taylor 2001). The world city network is an amalgam of the worldwide office networks of financial and business service firms."

Study Project 32 was funded by The Brookings Institution, one of the oldest elitist think tanks in the U.S. GaWC is primarily based at Loughborough University in England.

On the Global Cities Dialogue (GCD) web site, EU commissioner Mr. Erkki Liikanen declares in their mission statement:

"The Global Cities Dialogue is a new initiative proposing an open framework for action for all cities interested in working together to realize the potential of an information society free from social exclusion and based on sustainable development. It builds on the premise that cities have a key role to play in the information society. They are the geographical, political, socio-economic and cultural entities where millions live, work and directly exercise their rights as citizens and consumers. They are close to grassroots processes and directly face a number of information-society issues, changes and opportunities from local democracy to more cost-effective services."

This might sound innocuous on the surface, but what it assumes and understates, is that the very nature of some cities must radically change if they are going to be part of the Global City network. Wherever change is assumed by globalists, one must look intensely to see what they have in mind. Usually, such change will be good for them, but seldom good for you.

The original charter for GCD, established in Helsinki, states in part that "the convergence and gradual globalization of information society technologies and services need new forms of governance and co-operation." Herein lies the rub... what are these "new forms of governance and cooperation?"

Secondly, the signatories to the GCD committed to "define and implement a programme of action that will help build the Global Cities Dialogue into an exciting and fruitful initiative for the Information Society in the third millennium." So, they are not satisfied with just talking about it but they also intend to implement specific policies and actions around the world.

There seems to be dozens of think-tanks, universities and other organizations who are focusing on the Global City these days, including Brookings Institution, Rand Corporation, Brown University, University of Toronto, and many others.

This issue will focus on a series of articles found in The Brown Journal of World Affairs (Winter/Spring 2005 issue) that deal with the Global City. The Brown Journal is a world policy publication of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and is comparable in stature to Foreign Affairs published by the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Global City: Introducing a Concept

Saskia Sassen, professor of Sociology at University of Chicago, writes that "the globalization of economic activity entails a new type of organizational structure." To get there, she states "this entails a whole infrastructure of activities, firms, and jobs which are necessary to run the advanced corporate economy."

Because the Global City must reside in a nation-state however, there are inherent conflicts that arise from differing interests. Sassen writes,

"One way of thinking about the political implications of this strategic transnational space anchored in global cities is in terms of the formation of new claims on that space. The global city particularly has emerged as a site for new claims: by global capital, which uses the global city as an 'organizational commodity,' but also by disadvantaged sectors of the urban population, frequently as internationalized a presence in global cities as capital. The 'de-nationalizing' of urban space and the formation of new claims by transnational actors, raise the question: Whose city is it?" (emphasis added)

Whose city, indeed! The thrust here is to "de-nationalize" the city, then turn it over to "transnational actors." In un-politically correct language, some people might call this "hi-jacking!"

The underlying tone of this article seems to hint at the need for cities that are exempt from local, regional or national control. A similar concept was acted out in so-called Free Trade Zones (FTZ) that are set up to allow investment and manufacturing in designated areas that are at least partially free of tariffs and other trade restrictions. In 2002, there were some 43 million people working in FTZs worldwide. As FTZ's are to manufacturing, so the Global City is to corporate operations.

Sassen further talks about an "expanding network of global cities", indicating that these cities are interconnected in ways that foster global business. In other words, in addition to infrastructure issues like communications, there are similarities that must exist between these cities that provides a common experience for urban dwellers as they move about.

Our Urban Future: Making a Home for Homo Urbanus

In this article, authors Tibaijuka, Maseland and Moor declare that "we are rapidly becoming a species of city dwellers - homo urbanus," and that this "is not without complications."

What they view as complications is very pointed:

"Residual rural attitudes and institutions are major reasons why cities do not work well for all residents, marginalizing some and excluding others. Transferring into an urban context long-held prejudices and a natural fear of strangers - a fear that is intimately connected to rural settlements - provides the basis for dysfunctional social relationships. Prejudice and fear slow the wheels of both commerce and government..."

If cities were not socially superior to rural culture, they assure us that "through their economies of scale, cities provide products and services more cheaply and more effectively than is possible in the countryside."

[Editor's Note: These are the proverbial ignorants who think milk in the grocery store comes from a carton. This editor would like to see them manage a herd of dairy cows in downtown New York, or grow soybeans in urban Chicago.]

To these writers, the Global City goes beyond just physical infrastructure issues -- it is a state of mind. It requires "a new positive thinking among its inhabitants." What is holding this positive thinking back? Evil rural mentality.

Because they are convinced that "our future is inevitably an urban one," they finally conclude that "for our cities to arrive at this role we need to create the political will and learn how to live as an urban species, rather than as a rural species living in higher densities."

GaWC Inventory of World Cities

Several study groups are "slicing and dicing" the data to determine which cities are truly Global Cities. There are some differences in approach and measurements, and even some heated discussions at the resulting conclusions. Most of the heat comes from the Mayors of cities that are put far down the list.

GaWC (Globalization and World Cities Study Group & Network) created the table below which lists cities in order of their "Global Connectivity Score." Secondarily, they are listed by World Rank and US Rank. Note how the column US Level of Globality stratifies groups of cities by letters A through H. A or B cities include New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The bottom of the list isn't so kind. If you are Baltimore, Phoenix or Cincinnati, you are "Unimportant regional-global centers." Let's hope that these cities get over their Neanderthal rural attitudes and develop more positive and cooperative mind sets.

A Ranking of US Cities within the World City Network

A Network of Cities

It is not enough that Global Cities exist by themselves, but rather they need to be interconnected in every conceivable way: electronically, financially, with standardized services and employee pools, etc.

This writer's 25 year career in the computer industry saw the release of the very first IBM Personal Computer (PC) and the entire history of networks used to connect people and offices in diverse locations. In the early days, networks were rudimentary, to say the least. With the advent of the "network server", a souped-up PC was designated the "controller" or "file-server" for the entire network. It basically became the traffic cop for the whole network and was the point of central coordination, when coordination was required.

One thing that the Global City does NOT have on the drawing board yet is a "master controller" city. This would be a logical extension of the concepts discussed thus far. The question is, which Global City would be designated Master? New York? Paris? London?

Considering the supreme importance and infinite leverage of such a Master City, this could lead to the argument of the millennium. Even if a city could be agreed upon, how difficult would it be to "remodel" that city to assume the role of Master City? Likely, it would be impossible!

How much better would it be that everyone would agree to pick a neutral, and even desolate location, and just build the Master City from scratch. Each participant would own a share of the Master City, giving them rights and privileges to coordinate their operations in the subsidiary Global Cities scattered around the globe.

To repeat, this concept is not found in current literature that this writer is aware of. We will keep close watch for it because it is a natural extension of concepts already put forth.

Here is a challenge for you: Can you think of the perfect place for the Master City to be constructed? If you have an idea, send an email to this writer at editor@augustcorp.com.

Conclusion

The doctrine of the Global City is merely another sign post on the road to globalization. Do you like it, or not?

Globalist think-tanks are spinning out volumes of research on how to get from point A to point B, but there will never be a public vote or even a poll taken to confirm the will of the people.

Indeed, globalists know better than to ask the people of a nation what they think about it. Remember that France recently held a public election for ratification of the EU treaty, and they resoundingly voted it DOWN! We in America have never had a voice, much less a vote, in approving or stopping America's move toward globalization. The U.S. government has been penetrated deeply by globalist thinkers and policy-makers. Congress routinely votes against public will, and in some cases, with impunity.

The stubbornness of global thinkers is amazing. For instance, there is absolutely no public mandate for the U.S. to be part of the CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) treaty -- which is more far-reaching and potentially harmful than the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) treaty was that went into effect in 1994. However, even as recently as June 6, 2005, President Bush "touted his proposals for a hemisphere-wide free trade agreement, saying it will open the way to peace and prosperity for all nations of the Americas and reduce the attraction of 'false ideologies'."

The advent of the Global City will supercharge the rush to globalism. It is assummed by the global elite to be as inevitable as the sun coming up tomorrow -- a forgone conclusion. Considering how far they have pushed their plans thus far, there is little reason to think they won't acheive these plans just as easily.

© 2005 Patrick Wood - All Rights Reserved

E-Mails are used strictly for NWVs alerts, not for sale


Patrick M. Wood is editor of The August Review, which builds on his original research with the late Dr. Antony C. Sutton, who was formerly a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution for War, Peace and Revolution at Stanford University. Their 1977-1982 newsletter, Trilateral Observer, was the original authoritative critique on the New International Economic Order spearheaded by members of the Trilateral Commission.

Their highly regarded two-volume book, Trilaterals Over Washington, became a standard reference on global elitism. Wood's ongoing work is to build a knowledge center that provides a comprehensive and scholarly source of information on globalism in all its related forms: political, economic and religious.

E-Mail: pwood@augustreview.com

Web Site: www.AugustReview.com


 

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In more advanced countries however, seventy five percent of the population already lived in urbana in the year 2000. This is expected to increase to eighty-four percent by the year 2030.