This post is aimed directly at the Facebook group I just created of the same name. Its purpose is stated in the following description:
“This group seeks to connect the global to the local, questioning whether anything today is entirely one or the other. Beyond thinking globally and acting locally, the group seeks to develop a praxis through which global and local citizens can both think and act locally and globally. It looks for globalizationʻs beauty and violence in the local community. It also sardonically views Hawaiʻi as the center of the world.”
The border between local and global is blurry – a bit like that between micro- and macroeconomics. Clever economists say that:
“while these two studies of economics appear to be different, they are actually interdependent and complement one another since there are many overlapping issues between the two fields. The bottom line is that microeconomics takes a bottoms-up approach to analyzing the economy while macroeconomics takes a top-down approach…”
But seriously, that doesnʻt really describe the border.
So what Iʻll focus on here is really where micro-globalization is visible, rather than exactly how it connects to macro-globalization. Iʻll organize this discussion around a few themes that occur to me as the central ones of global capitalist expansion.
DIVERSIFICATION: Waikiki as post modern city
First of all, globalization seems to be the postmodern economy (another post in the near future will address this concept, but the following definition will have to suffice for now: the simultaneous existence of multiple worldviews in a society and an individual) In the film Blade Runner, which is considered by most commentators the postmodern film, Los Angeles has become a multicultural megacity, “overrun” by Asians with signs and advertisements in Japanese. Its climate has altered so as to be unrecognizable: it rains constantly. It is Las Vegas on steroids, with every vice so available as to be hardly worthy of the term.
Waikiki is precisely this today. Most signs are in more than two languages, but Japanese signage and interpreters are a given. An unexpected and ironic silver lining to this is the greater presence of Hawaiian culture in Waikiki, though this was a planned initiative following on the native business vision of George Kanahele, and not universally applauded.
While Waikikiʻs climate remains recognizable, but the beaches that bring the tourists in the first place are now mainly artificially pumped sand and climate change is causing their disappearance – there is no beach at all in front of the Sheraton. After cleverly turning Hotel Street in Chinatown into a bus-only street, the district’s prostitutes moved to Waikiki, where they remain. It’s no longer shocking to think of Waikiki as a place of vice. Fights and shootings are commonplace, and it is an area to avoid after midnight. Waikiki has become (at least during the day) a sort of Disneyland – like Las Vegas, and contributes to Honoluluʻs status as the most densely-populated city in the US. And because locals avoid Waikiki like the plague, what happens in Waikiki stays in Waikiki.
Waikiki is Ridley Scott’s Los Angeles in 2019.
Didn’t I just say diversification was the first trend in the globalization of the local? The presence of the opposite is not implausible or even necessarily contradictory. In fact, we should recognize that all the trends of globalization have their opposites acting simultaneously – this allows a much richer discussion of these trends that are so large as to be difficult to see. In Waiʻanae the other day, I noticed a new Jack in the Box where a local diner used to be. This “restaurant” joins the McDonalds, the KFC, the Starbucks and the Burger King that are already in Waiʻanae. I see this trend everywhere – franchises replacing locally owned businesses, creating the stripmalled sameness in places as different as Waiʻanae and Hawaiʻi Kai. This homogenizing effect has been decried in many quarters, and is the effect of the winner-take-all merger mania of corporate America. But to say it makes us all the same is to oversimplify the process. Certainly classes continue to exist, and there is much homogenization within classes, so that the poor in Hawaiʻi today probably resemble Appalachian poor more today than they used to. But there are also regional variations and trends – while working class people in Hawaiʻi enjoy mixed martial arts as much as their mainland “counterparts,” and both may wear BJ Penn shirts those same counterparts donʻt sport “Defend Hawaiʻi” apparel.
These two trends – diversification and homogenization are merely the start of the globalist impositions on us. I will discuss two further trends in part 2: privatization and “Democratization.”