Sunday, March 07, 2004


Here is a story that can be used as a nice micro-example of how the forces of global capitalism affect identity politics.

"In Tesco, the biggest supermarket chain in Poland, care has been taken to label many items Polski Produkt, appealing to the Poles' feisty determination to remember who they are, especially when under the yoke of the EU."

I remember reading a Polish correspondent not too long ago who commented on the rise in nationalist feelings and antisemitism in Poland, since the agreement to join the EU specifically, but since communism's fall generally.

Centrifugal forces react when centripetal forces extert.

Of course the Poles are better off under the EU than they were alone, and definitely better than when they were a Soviet Satellite. Still, these little reactions - some ugly and severe, others cute and nearly meaningless -- show what happens when supranational capitalism takes hold.

The Poles can count themselves lucky, however, because at least the EU spreads their legal protections with their economic "hegemoney," which is a damn sight more than the United States does. Put another way, when BMW or IKEA invades the new EU countries, they'll have to behave in a way US corporate invaders refuse: when Exxon-Mobil, say, invades a Caspian Country, it demands the protections it's given in America, but of course refuses to abide by the restraints guaranteed by American Law; hence corruption, pollution, exploitation; hence the massive "outsourcing" trend in American business.