The Thistle Volume 13, Number 4: June/July, 2001.


This issue of the Thistle commemorates the annual ceremony wherein a crop of handy young people enters the world: MIT Commencement. A thousand shiny new faces, moving on to promising jobs in management, finance, biotechnology, computing, and engineering. Some of these former students will go on to be the most successful people of their generation – at least, successful in the terms measured by the west.

These new graduates will also be entering a changing world. Capitalism is expanding its borders, treading on facets of culture, economics, and social relationships that it has not dared touch before. This transformation of life (otherwise known as globalization) will bring with it tremendous social upheaval. Fortunately, our protégés will be safely shielded from the negative effects of this change by the gentle hand of the emerging corporate-controlled world government. Yes, that’s right: there’s nothing to fear for the MIT class of 2001. All they have to do is sit back and reap the benefits of economic hegemony. They need not even concern themselves with guilt – after all, there are no guns, paramilitaries or American bombers enforcing these economic relations – it’s just comparative advantage at work, man.

There’s the slim chance that the emerging discontent with this new extension of capitalism and the middle-class Americans whom it fattens might disturb the otherwise-perfect lives of our graduates. History shows that the downtrodden can only be bent backwards so far, before they will refuse to bend further. Common sense says that point of refusal is very near – for certainly the global South is bent back nearly head to heels. We can only hope that our graduates and their Merrill Lynch Mutual Funds can ride out the rough storm of restlessness.

Of course, we might (naively) hope that some of these graduates will not accept their bounty blindly. We might hope that some graduates will choose to question the dynamics of the new world order, who it leaves behind, and who it serves. We might hope that they will choose to abandon their privilege in favor of justice and equality for the impoverished billions. But if we did, we’d be kidding ourselves.


The Thistle Volume 13, Number 4: June/July, 2001.