Book Review: Deviant Globalization

Posted on June 11, 2011


Johann Hari’s contribution, “The Dark Side of Dubai,” continues the journalistic style survey of a the grayer side of globalization’s opulence. In an era of cheap and abundant credit, Dubai, a Shangri-La of the Middle East was build on a few decades of “ecocide, suppression, and slavery.” Hari describes a opulent oasis and adult Disneyland built by importing and “enslaving” desperate Asian and African workers who are imprisoned by their employers who confiscate their passports and impose harsh working conditions. This artificial oasis is also competing against the very desert it sits in; the most water-stressed place on the planet is living beyond its ecological means drinking the sea through huge desalination plants. To defy the environment creating usable water is more expensive and produces more emissions that the production of petrol. A fitting description ends this article, “I think Dubai is like and oasis. It is an illusion, not real. You think you have seen water in the distance, but you get close and your only get a mouthful of sand.”
Section two begins with a survey of the contraband tobacco smuggling in South America. “Smuggling Made Easy,” chronicles South America’s smuggling hub of Paraguay with global reach and scale producing 10 percent of the world’s contraband tobacco. Flourishing under a 35-year dictatorship, Paraguay’s cigarettes are just another illegal commodity peddled through its underground economy. US officials regard Paraguay as a principle money laundering center from drugs, arms, and cigarette trafficking in South America. The authors paint a portrait of big time traffickers in the form of businessmen and politicians. Avoiding the ire of big tobacco companies for trademark violations the Paraguayan cigarette industry produces cheap brands who’s distribution chains circumvent import/export taxes into legitimate markets at volumes that produce $1 billion in profits.