Globalization, Solidarity, and Justice

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By David Hollenbach, S.J. 

David Hollenbach, S.J. is Margaret O’Brien Flatley Professor of Theology and director of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College. He researches in the areas of social ethics, religion in political life, and ethical issues raised by forced migration. His most recent book is The Global Face of Public Faith: Politics, Human Rights, and Christian Ethics (Georgetown University Press, 2003). He has been visiting professor at Hekima College, Nairobi, Kenya; the Jesuit Institute of Philosophy, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and the East Asian Pastoral Institute, Manila.


The phenomenon of globalization is one of the most important signs of the times in the early 21stcentury. It is one of the central new realities that must be addressed by the tradition of Roman Catholic social thought as it seeks to chart its course into the future. My thesis in this essay is that the Catholic social tradition possesses resources that are very much needed if we are to meet the challenges of globalization. The increased interactions among peoples in a globalizing world require a deepened understanding of the common good they share. The Catholic social tradition is the single most vigorous bearer of reflection on the meaning of the common good on the world scene today. The Catholic tradition envisions the idea of this common good in particularly useful ways by linking it to an understanding of solidarity and justice. This tradition, therefore, is in a position to make a significant contribution to the debates about justice in emerging global interaction. Further, because the institutions needed to effectively pursue the global common good are notably underdeveloped, Church-related agents with global institutional presence are distinctively positioned to work for global solidarity and justice. They are thus well placed to help build up the global common good.

I will present a three-part argument for the thesis that the Catholic tradition can make an important contribution to the globalization debate. First, a brief clarification of the meaning of globalization will be offered. Second, several of the key ideas from the tradition of Catholic social thought that are relevant to these concerns will be outlined, specifically ideas concerning solidarity and justice. Third, some practical suggestions will be made about how Church-related bodies might make institutional contributions to the solidarity and justice we need. Because the phenomenon of globalization is so complex and multidimensional, what is said here can only touch some of the questions that the Catholic social tradition will have to address in the decades ahead. But these reflections are offered with the hope that they will contribute to a much wider project of reflection and action within the Catholic community.

Dimensions of Globalization

First, a brief clarification of the meaning of globalization is in order. Globalization has become a much-used word in recent years. Indeed the term has become the focal point of intense intellectual and political controversy. Analytically, some see globalization as the defining characteristic of a new historical epoch, while others view it as a continuation of the currents of global interconnection that have periodically risen and receded throughout history. Practically, some are enthusiasts for economic or political aspects of globalization, viewing it as a boon that will lead to reduced poverty or greater global peace. Anti-globalizers of both the right and the left, on the other hand, see it as a threat to prized cultural traditions or as a cause of inequality and poverty.

In the midst of these heated controversies, the term "globalization" is rarely defined. As a result, a person’s evaluative response to globalization is likely to be heavily dependent on the particular meaning given to the term. Frequently in anti-globalization discourse, especially in developing countries, the term "globalization" is used to name economic changes that are expected to lead to further impoverishment and isolation of those who are already desperately poor. This usage of the term appeals to recent economic developments that have been accompanied by both increased poverty and increased inequality in developing countries, especially in Africa. If globalization is identified with such phenomena or seen as their cause, the term takes on a powerfully negative connotation. On the other hand, more optimistic thinkers point to the success stories among some developing countries to argue that integration into global markets through trade and finance can lead to positive economic outcomes. A positive stance toward globalization also arises from the hope that communications technology is bringing a worldwide human community into being in a way that has never been seen before. New forms of technological interconnection promise to promote mutual understanding and thus support the development of peace among nations. The identification of the meaning of "globalization" with such desirable outcomes will obviously give the term a very positive meaning. But the identification of "globalization" with either purely positive outcomes or purely negative ones oversimplifies what is happening in significant ways. This oversimplification in turn leads to misdirected evaluations.

Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye provide some useful precision in the discussion by describing globalization as the increase in networks of interdependence among people at multicontinental distances (2000:104-19). This description highlights the fact that globalization involves complex networks of interdependence, not single strands of interconnection such as increased trade or increased communication via new electronic media. Globalization is occurring on multiple levels of social life—the political, the economic (including the diverse dimensions of trade, finance, investment, production, and consumption), the social-cultural, the military, the technological, and the environmental.2 Our evaluations of globalization are in fact sharply influenced by which strand of the growing global network we focus upon.

For example, both increased poverty and increased inequality in developing countries have accompanied economic aspects of globalization. The number of people worldwide with incomes of less than $1 per day rose from 1,183 million in 1987 to 1,198 million in 1998.3 The Structural Adjustment Programs of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank of the 1980s and early 1990s put constraints on the economic decisions of the governments of developing countries through the conditions they set for loans, debt relief, and other forms of financial assistance. In hindsight, several economists highly placed within the World Bank have written scathing critiques of the policies followed by the major international financial institutions in the 80s and early 90s (Stiglitz 2002, Easterly 2001). In their view, these policies have not alleviated and may even have contributed to inequality, poverty, and suffering in parts of the developing world. Such phenomena surely give the term globalization a very bad name.

Critiques of globalization as a form of external control with negative effects on the citizens of one’s country are in line with the classical "realist" analysis of how people respond to international affairs. The realist model predicts that people will respond to international events in terms of their self-interest. So those who see globalization as having a negative impact on their interests will resist it. It should be noted that this realist response is not confined to developing countries. In the United States, for example, labor unions are among the strongest critics of globalization. Union members see the rapid movement of capital as a serious threat to their jobs and wages, as US corporations move their plants to countries where wages are low. Thus, pursuit of self-interest has led US labor organizations to advocate higher wages, better working conditions, and stronger protection of the rights of workers in developing countries. An alliance may thus be emerging between US labor unions and advocates of the poor in developing countries. This alliance is itself a dimension of globalization. It challenges that standard principle of political realism that self-interest is ordinarily focused on the interest of the nation-state to which one belongs. The economic permeability of the borders of nation-states means that the interests of US workers may be linked with the interests of poor workers in developing countries. This suggests that some of the emergent intercontinental economic connections can lead to new solidarities across borders as well as to new divisions. Focusing on such emergent solidarities will lead to very different evaluative responses than focusing on economic interactions where the interests of developed and developing countries conflict in a zero-sum game. How one understands the reality of globalization thus has a big influence on one’s normative stance.

This is evident if the realities being evaluated are not the policies of international financial institutions in the 80s and early 90s but the directions some of them have begun to adopt more recently. For example, the World Bank’s efforts to formulate a Comprehensive Development Framework and its 2001 annualWorldDevelopment Report entitled "Attacking Poverty" both seek to put the issue of equality back on the development agenda.4 This change of direction has been sufficient to lead some to argue that today’s World Bank leadership has become overly ambitious in pursuit of equality and insufficiently committed to free markets (Einhorn 2001, Fidler 2001). These new directions are certainly not panaceas for the suffering of the poor in developing countries and such policies can and should be criticized from the standpoint of ethics and, more specifically, Catholic social thought, when they fall short of what is truly needed.

An ethical approach based on Catholic social thought also needs to recognize the new role being played by the idea of the common good in some policy approaches to environmental issues such as global warming and to the health crisis due to the transmission of AIDS across national boundaries. A United Nations Development Program (UNDP) study identifies protection of the environment and human health as "global public goods" (Kaul, et al. 1999, esp. the essays on environment and health). The UNDP study uses the standard economic definition of a public good as a good that free market exchanges are unlikely to produce. From a broader viewpoint, such goods are both global and public in the sense that any particular nation can enjoy them only when other nations also enjoy them in a proportional way. An individual nation shares in a global public good precisely because that nation is part of the global whole in which the good is present. Thus, the protection of the environment, climate, and ozone layer for one country is intertwined with or, in the long run, perhaps even identical with the global protection of these realities. Similarly, the prevention of transmission of diseases like AIDS and the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons are other examples of global public goods of this sort. The people of an individual nation share in a global public good only because their nation is part of a network in which that good is present. In an analogous way, we can speak of global public bads.

Thus, ethical judgments with important policy implications must be made on the basis of increasingly transnational information. This might itself be called the globalization of the task of ethical inquiry. Issues like environmental protection and response to the AIDS crisis evoke attitudes that can be called cosmopolitan, in which the focus of concern is not limited to the well-being of fellow citizens of a nation-state. This kind of globalization is highly desirable and we do not have enough of it.

There are also explicitly political dimensions of globalization. For example, the idea of universal human rights is raising complex challenges to the sovereignty of nation states. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has become the charter document of an international human rights regime composed of overlapping global, regional, national, and nongovernmental institutions. These range from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; the Inter American Court of Human Rights; the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia; the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. These institutions notably include many Catholic ones, ranging from those at the international level of the Holy See to agencies of the Catholic Church in a particular country such as US-based Catholic Relief Services, to transnational Church networks with both formal and informal organizational arrangements (Vallier 1973, and for a more contemporary analysis, Hehir 1999). These institutions, often working together, have raised increasingly strong challenges to the sovereignty of states by seeking to hold them accountable to human rights norms that reach well beyond their national interests as traditionally understood. A number of these agencies insist that human rights are not limited to the civil political rights favored by the liberal tradition but include the social and economic rights long stressed in the Catholic tradition. The significance of this human rights movement has been visible in the maneuvering that took place across the borders of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Chile regarding the fate of Augusto Pinochet. It is also evident in the trial of Slobodan Milosovic for crimes against humanity for his role in the horrors that occurred in Bosnia, and in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s first-ever conviction for genocide in September 1998. The establishment of a standing International Criminal Court (despite US opposition) will institutionalize such accountability for severe human rights abuses in a permanent international setting. The political aspects of globalization also include reconsideration of the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention to protect people threatened by the gravest human rights violations such as genocide, ethnic cleansing, and other forms of forced migration.

The role of human rights in the evolving international regime thus directly challenges state sovereignty on the legal-political level. More important in the long run, though, is the way it stretches cultural understandings of the scope of moral responsibility. In UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s words:



State sovereignty, in its most basic sense, is being redefined—not least by the forces of globalization and international co-operation. States are now widely understood to be instruments at the service of their peoples, and not vice versa... When we read the (United Nations) charter today, we are more than ever conscious that its aim is to protect individual human beings, not to protect those who abuse them (1999).

This mode of thinking conceives of human beings as, first, members of the worldwide human community with rights that derive from their humanity as such, and second, as members of the communities of existing nation states. Nation states, of course, remain important in Annan’s thinking; they are not about to fade off the scene any time soon. Nevertheless, nation states do not have impermeable boundaries that may never be legitimately crossed. Annan argues that these boundaries indeed ought to be crossed, preferably by diplomats, or in extreme cases by soldiers, to prevent massive human rights violations, to protect refugees, to keep the peace, and even to make peace where conflict has already broken out. This kind of argument is in effect an appeal for the globalization of citizenship—for granting membership in the human community a higher value than citizenship in a particular nation state, at least in extreme situations where humanity itself is threatened. This aspect of globalization is very much in accord with Catholic social teaching. Again, we see that the moral significance of globalization depends on which dimension of the global network we focus upon.

These economic, environmental, and political matters are but three of the strands that are woven in the emerging network of globalization. There are others, such as the technological web of the Internet and the increasing interactions on the level of culture. Cultural globalization itself has very different manifestations, such as the influence of popular rock music on youth worldwide and increasingly visible influence of world religions on politics. As examples of this global impact of religion one need only point to the present role of Islam in world politics and to the influence of Pope John Paul II’s travels in locations as diverse as the Middle East, Indonesia, Central Europe, and Latin America. The point is that globalization is a many-dimensional reality; it cannot be reduced to a single line of analysis such as the economic without distorting it in ways that will lead to serious misunderstanding.

What Kind of Globalization? Normative Considerations

Transborder interconnections in the economic, environmental, and political domains are forms of interdependence that exist de facto. The normative question becomes how to move from patterns of interdependence marked by inequality, domination, and oppression to conditions of equality, solidarity, and reciprocity. Unequal interdependence is evident where we see forced migration of refugees or economic policies that sustain poverty. They are evident when whole nations are trapped in a cycle of poverty by their debts to international financial institutions5 or where heavy subsidies to the agricultural sector in developed countries keep the agricultural exports of developing countries meager. To be sure, markets and trade can be engines of improved well-being for those who already have access to them. But as Pope John Paul II has said, "The fact is that many people, perhaps the majority today, do not have the means which would enable them to take their place in an effective and humanly dignified way within a productive system in which work is truly central. Thus, if not actually exploited, they are to a great extent marginalized; economic development takes place over their heads."6

This presents us with a formidable agenda. The shape of the world’s evolving economic and political system is still very much up for grabs. One possible future is a new hegemony by the powerful over the weak, in which the economic and military power of the few is used to control and dominate the many. This, of course, is what many of the critics of globalization fear is actually occurring. At the same time, it also seems highly unlikely that efforts simply to withdraw from the global web will secure a decent life for those who are presently on the weaker side of the distribution of power.

Thus, beyond the critiques of the negative consequences of globalization we need to develop positive ways to envision living with it and putting it to the service of the well-being of all the people whose lives it affects. Pope John Paul II has suggested the general outline of such a positive vision in his call for "globalization in solidarity, globalization without marginalization." He says that globalization of this kind requires asking "Will everyone be able to take advantage of a global market? Will everyone at least have a chance to enjoy peace? Will relations between States become more equitable, or will economic competition and rivalries between peoples and nations lead humanity toward a situation of even greater instability?" (1998, no. 3). Giving positive answers to the first three of these questions means developing new forms of cooperation, partnership, and solidarity in the emerging global network.

How can the Catholic Church respond to this challenge to pursue a form of globalization based on solidarity? I have several suggestions.

First, the Catholic community has institutional resources few other bodies in the world possess. The Catholic Church is present in virtually every local cultural, political, and economic situation in the world. At the same time, the Catholic Church is the largest single transnational body on the face of the globe today. By linking the knowledge gained from its local insertion with its transnational capacity of action, the Church can influence global discourse and global policy-making in ways that few other institutions can even aspire to do.

Second, the Catholic Church possesses distinctive intellectual resources for responding to the cultural challenge of globalization—the challenge that arises on the level of people’s deepest values and identities. The negative face of this challenge is evident in the way the strains of globalization are often accompanied by self-defensive religious fundamentalisms and reassertions of ethnic identity. A defensible case can be made that the stresses placed on cultural and religious identities by globalization are among the key sources of conflict and war today.7 The negative impact of globalization on communal loyalties is also evident when managers of capital move their resources around the world unconstrained by loyalty to any community at all, including the communities directly affected by their decisions. Thus, globalization is accompanied by problems that stem both from closed loyalty to particular communities and from no loyalty to any particular community at all.

It is here that the Catholic tradition, at its best, can help address this cultural challenge. The very word "Catholic" implies commitment to a community that is both universal in scope and that takes the differences among peoples and cultures with the seriousness they deserve. Authentic universality can only be achieved by an inclusive community that does not project its own vision of the good life on others in imperialistic fashion. But authentic universality calls for more than simply leaving others who are different alone. In a globalizing world we are fated to interact across the cultural and religious boundaries that have for so long divided the world into different camps. Today the question is not whether there will be such interaction, but whether it will be peaceful or violent, mutual or hegemonic. If it is to be peaceful and mutual, it will call for interaction that requires both listening and speaking in a genuine conversation across the boundaries that have traditionally divided the world.

This listening and speaking is a form of solidarity—the form that I like to call intellectual solidarity. The Catholic tradition has often in the past confronted the challenge of interaction with those who are different. At its best, this interaction has led both to a widened understanding of what it means to be authentically human and to a deeper understanding of what it means to be genuinely Christian. For example, in the first and second centuries, the early Christian community moved from being a small Palestinian sect to active encounter with the Hellenistic and Roman worlds. In the fourth century, Augustine profoundly transformed both Christian and Graeco-Roman thought and practice by bringing biblical faith into dialogue with Stoic and Neoplatonic thought. In the 13th century Thomas Aquinas once again transformed Western Christianity by appropriating ideas of Aristotle he had learned from Arab Muslims and from Jews. In the 20th century, affirmation of modern freedoms has been transforming Catholicism once again.

The Church, of course, has not always been at its best in such matters. For example, the stance of Christianity toward Judaism contributed to the massive injustices linked to anti-Semitism. And in the 18thcentury the response of Church leadership in Rome to Jesuit efforts at a serious encounter with Confucianism in China led to Chinese antagonism toward both Christianity and the West that continues today. Nonetheless, the overall trajectory of its history should give the Catholic community a robust hope that cultures holding different visions of the good life can get somewhere if they are willing to risk serious conversation and sustained argument about these visions. Injecting such hope into the intellectual debates about the interaction of cultures in a globalizing world would be a signal achievement.8

The Catholic tradition also possesses a strong vision of the importance of social solidarity for the achievement of full humanity. This understanding of social solidarity will have important influences in the way we understand what justice requires in the economic and political domains of the global network. An adequate discussion of the meaning of justice in the full sweep of the Catholic tradition is obviously impossible here. The task can be simplified, however, by noting the United States Catholic Bishops’ 1986 description of the bottom-line demands of justice. They said "Basic justice demands the establishment of minimum levels of participation in the life of the human community for all persons." Put negatively, "The ultimate injustice is for a person or group to be treated actively or abandoned passively as if they were nonmembers of the human race."9 The recent documents of Catholic social thought call this exclusion "marginalization"—exclusion from social life and from active participation in the common good of the human community.

Such unjust exclusion can take many forms. There is political marginalization: the denial of the vote; restriction of free speech; the tyrannical concentration of power in the hands of a ruling elite; the exclusion of participation in social life on the grounds of ethnicity, culture, or religion. The most extreme forms of such exclusion are evident in forced migration, internal displacement, ethnic cleansing, and the abomination of genocide. Less dramatic but still deeply unjust examples are economic policies that sustain or increase poverty, lack of education, no access to basic health care, and unemployment. When the world possesses the resources to address these deprivations but fails to do so, those who suffer the continuing deprivation are effectively marginalized. The community implicitly tells them: We don’t need your talent, we don’t need your initiative, we don’t need you. Injecting this kind of vision of justice into the current debates about globalization and about north-south relations in a globalizing world could be one of the chief contributions of Catholic social thought in our world today.

Institutional Implications

This understanding of justice also calls for the development of political institutions that will enable poor countries and their citizens to have greater voice when decisions are being made about indebtedness, trade, environment, labor standards, and other forms of interdependence. As Keohane and Nye have pointed out, the venues where such decisions are made presently look like clubs with membership limited to political and economic elites. Trade ministers meet at the World Trade Organization, finance ministers at the IMF, and heads of the most developed countries at G8 summit meetings. Though these organizations are formally accountable to the states that are their members, they represent only certain constituencies within those states, frequently conduct their business in closed sessions, and operate as distant bureaucracies. Votes in these international agencies are often distributed in proportion to the wealth or budgetary contributions of the member states and the poor are rarely officially represented at all. This has been called "globalization’s democratic deficit" (Nye 2001:2-6). Control over the decisions of these international organizations by most of the people whose well-being they affect is at best attenuated and at worst non-existent.10 Overcoming both the real and the perceived aspects of this deficit is essential. If large blocs of the world’s people have no effective voice in shaping the global institutions that fundamentally affect their well-being, they are not being treated as genuine members of the human moral community. New avenues for voice and agency, therefore, must be opened up. A normative understanding of social justice as requiring at least minimal participation in the common good, therefore, calls for greater transparency, openness, accountability, and access in these global institutions than exists today.

Formal democratization of the governance of international institutions is, however, only part of the solution. The situation also will require strengthening the capacity of less formal modes of influence. For example, NGOs have the capacity to press both national governments and international organizations for action on numerous issues.11 They also have the capacity to influence the public debate in the larger societies on these matters. The Church and its many agencies can and should be key actors in the effort to shape evolving transnational and international institutions in ways that enhance participation by poor countries.

Let me conclude with what may be a provocative appeal to historical memory. Several scholars have recently raised the question of whether we might draw fruitful analogies between the world that is emerging as a result of globalization and the structure of the long-lost world of medieval Europe. Is it possible, some scholars have asked, that premodern Europe is a kind of distant mirror in which we could gain new insight into the world of the future?12 The distinguished Australian theorist of international politics, Hedley Bull, has asked whether we may be witnessing the emergence of a "neo-medieval" international system. Because of the diffusion of authority in the emerging global system, Bull asks whether there is an analogy between the international system of the future and that which prevailed in the West before the modern nation state had come into existence. Thus, Bull wonders whether we may be witnessing the emergence of a secular equivalent of the kind of political organization that existed in Western Christendom in the Middle Ages (1977:254).

In such a future, authority would be shared among national governments, intergovernmental organizations, and transnational organizations and movements. The significant actors in such a world would include not only states but also bodies like the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the World Trade Organization, Amnesty International, the international women’s movement, the Catholic Church, the Islamic community, and (more ominously) terrorist organizations such as Al Qaida. In these ways the future might be somewhat like the past. In the medieval system, nation states were not sovereign, for the nation state as we know it had not yet been invented. Political authority was diffused among multiple agents of government, including barons and dukes, princes, the Holy Roman Emperors, bishops, and the pope. In a sense, internationalism and transnationalism were part of the routine in a way that the subsequent creation of the modern nation state has made it hard for us to imagine today. The nation-state that has structured public life in Europe since the 16th century and that has spread throughout the world since the mid-20th century had not yet been invented. In this pre-state era, there was no one supreme authority over a geographically defined segment of the population. So the loyalties of a population could be multiple. Medieval politics was not a politics of the nation state and of nationalism. Politics was structured in a quite different way than we have come to take for granted over the past few centuries.

Bull did not himself think that the emergence of such a "neo-medieval" way of organizing the world would be a good thing. But others who have studied the phenomenon of globalization and the new influence of transnational actors on international politics make a more positive argument that the emerging system does in fact bear some significant similarities to the premodern European order (Held, et al., 209-17). This does not mean, of course, that our globalizing world is evolving into a kind of neo-Christendom or that the European ancient régime can or should be reestablished. The world is far too religiously and culturally pluralistic to revive Christendom, and suggestions that Europe should serve as a model for the rest of the world have surely had their day. The medieval analogy, however, does suggest a fruitful way of thinking about the structural and political organization of the future international system. This analogy is based on certain similarities in the way the emerging structures of the world today generate multiple and overlapping loyalties. Political and communal loyalties today are becoming simultaneously more local and more transnational compared to the focused loyalty that patriots and nationalists of the modern era had to their state or their nation.

Today, an accountable form of governance will have to be multilayered, including formal governmental bodies on local, national, regional, and international levels, but also comprised of intergovernmental regimes in which civil society-based NGOs play a key role.13 Citizens in this world will have commitments to more than one community, including patriotic loyalties to a nation-state, but also likely including loyalties to a cultural or ethnic community, a profession, and one or more advocacy communities such as a labor union or a normatively committed group such as Amnesty International.14 For many, these loyalties will include commitment to a community of faith such as Catholicism, whose values transcend all other loyalties but that advocates a form of universal solidarity among all persons as fellow creatures of the transcendent God.

In light of this institutional evolution, is it far-fetched to suggest that the Catholic Church—the largest transnational community on the globe today—could make a distinctive and perhaps even indispensable contribution to a globalizing world? This contribution could be a vision of social solidarity and justice based on the equal dignity of every member of the human family. It could also be the result of the Church’s unique institutional presence across the globe.

Such Church influence, of course, will have to have a very different form than that exercised by the Church in medieval Europe. The very mention of medieval political structures and the role of the Church in them is certainly enough to lead many people today to think that one is proposing to reestablish the confessional state and perhaps to reinstitute the inquisition. I hope it is clear that this is entirely contrary to the future envisioned here. The intellectual solidarity presupposed here requires robust commitment to genuine interreligious dialogue that can occur only when religious freedom is wholeheartedly supported and solidly institutionalized. There can be no going back on the achievement of Western modernity in the domain of religious freedom, for both ethical and theological reasons. Indeed, if the Church engages the realities of globalization with this spirit of intellectual solidarity, it could set an example of how fidelity to one’s religious faith and respect for the religious freedom of others can support each other. Such an example would go far to show those tempted to fundamentalism or ethnoreligious nationalism that faith and freedom can be allies. Such an example and the intellectual foundations that support it are sorely needed in a world where the pressures of globalization often produce violent backlash in the name of religious or cultural identity.

In conclusion, I think it can be shown that the Roman Catholic social tradition possesses a number of rich resources that can address the realities of globalization. These include a spirit of intellectual solidarity that seeks to deal with these challenges by engaging those who are different in fruitful dialogue about how to live together. This dialogue is based on mutual respect for the dignity of all human beings, and, Christians believe, on the fact that we are all created in the image of God. They also include a spirit of social solidarity that puts us on guard against the individualism that often undergirds the arguments of those who identify globalization with the spread of free markets. Markets have their place, but just markets must serve the dignity of all whose lives they touch. In a globalizing world, that means global markets must be evaluated in light of how they affect the poorest.

This paper is the barest beginning of a reflection on how Catholic social thought might cast some light on the emerging realities of globalization. There is much more to be discovered about how the Catholic tradition should develop so that it can make a genuinely effective contribution in our globalizing world. But this contribution will, I believe, have to continue to build upon the social solidarity, intellectual solidarity, and justice that are central to the deep tradition of Catholic social thought. Indeed, the links that connect social solidarity, intellectual solidarity, and justice are especially important in the efforts to address the new forms of economic, social, and cultural interdependence that come with globalization. Because of the sensitivity of Catholic social thought to these links, the Church can make a creative contribution in our globalizing world. Such a claim, however, must be made with the humility and tentativeness that are appropriate to the mixed history of Catholicism in matters political, intercultural, and interreligious. At the same time, the Catholic tradition surely possesses important resources that can help create the new forms of political and economic life on which the common good of our shrinking and diverse world depends. The challenge is enormous. But we are not bereft of resources as we seek to meet it. So, at least, I would like to propose and to hope.



1. An earlier version of the argument presented here appeared in Revue de Philosophie et de Critique Sociale de Kimwenza (Kinshasa, République Démocratique du Congo: 2001), 95-107.

2. For an in-depth analysis of the diverse dimensions of globalization, see David Held, Anthony McGrew, David Goldblatt, and Jonathan Perraton 1999. Similar though not identical dimensions of globalization are distinguished and analyzed in Nye and Donahue 2000.

3. See The World Bank, World Development Report 2000 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), Table 1.1, p. 23.

4. Kanbur and Lustig 1999. Kanbur and Lustig had oversight of the drafting of the World Bank’sWorldDevelopment Report 2000/2001.

5. See Administrative Board of the United States Catholic Conference, "A Jubilee Call for Debt Forgiveness" (April 1999), sec. I. Available on the United States Catholic Bishops’ Conference website, at (downloaded July 24, 2001). This statement presents an overview of a common-good based approach to the indebtedness of developing countries.

6. Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, no. 33.

7. For an influential argument to this effect, see Huntington 1997.

8. For a wide-ranging discussion of possible contributions of religious communities, especially Roman Catholicism, to the peaceful and mutually beneficial encounter between cultures and civilizations, see Appleby 2000. Appleby’s study provides a valuable contrast to Huntington’s predictions about a global future that will be marked by cultural, civilizational, and religious conflict.

9. National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 77, emphasis in the original. In O’Brien and Shannon 1992:576-77.

10. Keohane 1998:92. Keohane and Joseph Nye develop the "club" characterization somewhat more fully in their "Introduction" to Governance in a Globalizing World, esp. 26-36.

11. Keck and Sikkink 1998:2-3, 16-25. For a similar breakdown of the roles played by transnational NGOs see Brown, Khagram, Moore, and Frumkin in Nye and Donahue 2000:271-96, at 283.

12. The phrase is borrowed from Tuchman 1978.

13. The term "multilayered governance" is from Held, et al., 62-77.

14. For provocative discussions of these plural loyalties see O’Neill 2000; Sen in Kaul, et al., 116-25.



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Kanbur, Ravi and Nora Lustig

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Kaul, et al. (eds.)

1999 Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century (New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press), especially the essays on environment and health.

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1998 Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press).

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1998 "International Institutions: Can Interdependence Work?" Foreign Policy 110 (Spring).

Keohane, Robert O. and Joseph S. Nye

2000 "Globalization: What’s New? What’s Not? (And So What?)" Foreign Policy (Spring).

Nye, Joseph S.

2001 "Globalization’s Democratic Deficit: How to Make International Institutions More Accountable," Foreign Affairs 80, no. 4 (July/August).

Nye, Joseph S. and John D. Donahue (eds.)

2000 Governance in a Globalizing World, Part One, "Trends in Globalization" (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press).

O’Brien, David and Thomas Shannon

1992 Catholic Social Thought: The Documentary Heritage (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books).

O’Neill, Onora

2000 Bounds of Justice (Cambridge University Press), especially chapters 9 and 10.

Sen, Amartya

1999 "Global Justice: Beyond International Equity," in Kaul, et al.

Stiglitz, Joseph E.

2002 Globalization and Its Discontents (New York: W. W. Norton & Company).

Tuchman, Barbara W.

1978 Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (New York: Knopf).

Vallier, Ivan

1973 "The Roman Catholic Church: A Transnational Actor," in Transnational Relations and World Politics: An Introduction, edited by Joseph S. Nye and Robert O. Keohane (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).

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