Michael Veseth has had it with too-convenient metaphors of globalization such as McDonalds and Michael Jordan. It’s all baloney – err, "globaloney."
Globaloney: Unraveling the Myths of Globalization challenges the rhetoric of Thomas Friedman, Benjamin Barber, William Greider, and other globalization commentators as high on words and images but low on accurate content. Veseth’s previous book was critical of globalization, but in this thin volume he’s more upbeat. In fact, he spends most of the time challenging doomsayers. Americans who look out and see McDonald’s everywhere and groan "Americanization" are really Americans looking for symbols of their homeland. People who bemoan the erosion of local culture as overtaken by massive corporate culture are blind to the reality – people have more choices than ever before, the "bottom" of the market is better than it’s ever been, and competition for high quality product is as active as ever.
He’s on-point when discussing sports analogies. He identifies basketball, for example, as a winner-takes-all market. Michael Jordan isn’t on the walls of an Argentinian fan because of some American takeover. He’s on the wall because he’s the best. Why would you want to cheer for the second best? Also, basketball was spread by YMCA missionaries a century ago and was played by people around the world well before it became popular in the U.S.
The frustrating part of this book is how it does not move any argument forward; rather, it simply reacts to arguments already set forth. Its thesis is humble: as Veseth says in the conclusion, his goal is to simply train people how to detect "globaloney" in a pro or anti-globalization argument. After all, it’s a massively complex issue with a gazillion dimensions. I couldn’t agree more, but an ending that resorts to "Ahh! The complexity!" leaves something to be desired.