Patrick M. Wood
As global corporations
expand their regional headquarters to major cities
around the world, the creation of the Global City has
come upon us. This article reveals the origin of the
Global City concept, and explores its future. Confined
to academic circles thus far, the results these studies
are soon to be put into action by the same globalists
who funded the studies in the first place.
The United Nations Population Division predicts that, for the first
time in human history, the number of urban dwellers will equal the
number of rural dwellers in 2007.
For less developed nations, it is expected that sixty percent of the
world's population will live in cities by the year 2030. Virtually
all of the predicted population increase during this time will be
absorbed by urban areas.
In more advanced countries however,
seventy five percent of the population already lived in urbana in
the year 2000. This is expected to increase to eighty-four percent
by the year 2030.
Another source shows the relative percentage growth between MDN
(More Developed Nations), LDN (Less Developed
Nations) and the world in totality.
Like it or not, the world is going urban. It's where the action is.
It's also where the global corporations are.
In the last ten years, there has been a plethora of think-tank
papers extolling the virtues of the Global City's *
need to support
the process of globalization, and in particular, the global
corporation. Very few outside of academia ever see these papers,
much less have any idea of what these people are talking about in
For the purpose of this article, Global City is capitalized to
distinguish its use from any other context of city, i.e., it does
not refer to "world-class city", very large cities, etc. The
specific concept is developed in this article.
This writer can say this with complete confidence:
"What you might think Global City
refers to is totally wrong."
can the Global City solve?
The picture is unveiled more quickly if you play devil's advocate
and put yourself in the shoes of a CEO of a major global company.
Would you like to pretend you are CEO of IBM, for instance?
IBM has 319,000 employees scattered across dozens of countries
throughout the world. They have manufacturing plants in at least 12
countries: U.S., Mexico, Canada, Ireland, France, Scotland, Germany,
Hungary, Japan, China, India, Thailand and Singapore.
As CEO, you have to continuously shuttle key employees from country
to country. People in China must correspond and interact with people
in Mexico, etc. Laws must be obeyed in all countries you operate in.
High-speed internet must connect every office and employee so that
anyone can work from anywhere, if necessary. Making a phone call to
an employee based in Germany but temporarily in Thailand, must find
him in Thailand just as easily as though he were in Germany.
Since IBM is so culturally diverse, then anywhere IBM has employees
is immediately diverse as well. A mainland China employee visiting
the New York office does not just flip a switch and become
americanized overnight. No, for the few days he visits New York, his
time clock remains on Chinese time and his mind and body remain in
As a company, you also have a need to quickly transfer large sums of
capital from one country to another, to fulfill various projects and
investment requirements. When a merger takes place, who does the
accounting? Accounting practices in China are very different than in
Mexico. Who handles legal cases when locations in two or more
countries are involved?
Multiply these problems by 319,000 employees plus divisions and
subsidiaries, and you have a huge a problem.
What you wish for are "base" cities that can maintain any and all
cultures on demand, at the same time, and with total transparency in
communications with every other employee in the world. You wish that
these "global cities" were all alike so that your traveling execs
and engineers could travel anywhere in the world and have the same
experience. It wouldn't matter if you were in Mexico City or
Moscow... everything works the same way.
A microcosm of this idea is always staying with the same hotel chain
when you travel around the U.S. All Embassy Suite hotels, for
instance, look the same, have the same features, the same
procedures, etc. If you have stayed in one Embassy Suite anywhere,
you have stayed in them everywhere! You know exactly what to expect
regardless of the city you are in.
Another close example is the large shopping mall that is ever
present in most American cities. Whether you visit a mall in Atlanta
or Spokane, you will find the familiar chain-operated stores,
similar designs, etc.
Thus, we have the birth of the Global City that will ostensibly
serve the Global Corporation and their Global Employees!
Study Project 32 of the Globalization and World Cities
Study Group & Network (GaWC) precisely defines the World City
(synonymous with Global City),
"World cities are defined in this
study as ‘global service centers’ that provide international
financial and business services through specific labor market
processes. The advanced producer firms (e.g. in accountancy and
in law) provide these services through their worldwide networks
of offices. It is through intra-firm connections in devising
‘seamless’ global services for clients that ‘global service
firms’ link cities together in a world city network.
Specifically this is an ‘interlocking network’ in which the
service firms and their labor market practices are the
‘interlockers’ creating a worldwide network of global service
centers (Taylor 2001). The world city network is an amalgam of
the worldwide office networks of financial and business service
Study Project 32 was funded by The
Brookings Institution, one of the oldest elitist think tanks in the
U.S. GaWC is primarily based at Loughborough University in England.
On the Global Cities Dialogue (GCD) web site, EU
commissioner Mr. Erkki Liikanen declares in their mission
"The Global Cities Dialogue is a new
initiative proposing an open framework for action for all cities
interested in working together to realize the potential of an
information society free from social exclusion and based on
sustainable development. It builds on the premise that cities
have a key role to play in the information society. They are the
geographical, political, socio-economic and cultural entities
where millions live, work and directly exercise their rights as
citizens and consumers. They are close to grassroots processes
and directly face a number of information-society issues,
changes and opportunities from local democracy to more
This might sound innocuous on the
surface, but what it assumes and understates, is that the very
nature of some cities must radically change if they are going to be
part of the Global City network. Wherever change is assumed by globalists, one must look intensely to see what they have in mind.
Usually, such change will be good for them, but seldom good for you.
The original charter for GCD, established in Helsinki, states in
"the convergence and gradual globalization of information
society technologies and services need new forms of governance and
Herein lies the rub... what are these "new forms of
governance and cooperation?"
Secondly, the signatories to the GCD committed to,
implement a program of action that will help build the Global Cities
Dialogue into an exciting and fruitful initiative for the
Information Society in the third millennium."
So, they are not
satisfied with just talking about it but they also intend to
implement specific policies and actions around the world.
There seems to be dozens of think-tanks, universities and other
organizations who are focusing on the Global City these days,
including Brookings Institution, Rand Corporation, Brown University,
University of Toronto, and many others.
This issue will focus on a series of articles found in
Journal of World Affairs (Winter/Spring 2005 issue) that deal with
the Global City. The Brown Journal is a world policy publication of
Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and is comparable in
stature to Foreign Affairs published by
the Council on Foreign
City: Introducing a Concept
Saskia Sassen, professor of Sociology at University of
Chicago, writes that,
"the globalization of economic
activity entails a new type of organizational structure."
To get there, she states,
"this entails a whole infrastructure
of activities, firms, and jobs which are necessary to run the
advanced corporate economy."
Because the Global City must reside in a
nation-state however, there are inherent conflicts that arise from
"One way of thinking about the
political implications of this strategic transnational space
anchored in global cities is in terms of the formation of new
claims on that space. The global city particularly has emerged
as a site for new claims: by global capital, which uses the
global city as an 'organizational commodity,' but also by
disadvantaged sectors of the urban population, frequently as
internationalized a presence in global cities as capital. The
'de-nationalizing' of urban space and the formation of new
claims by transnational actors, raise the question: Whose city
Whose city, indeed!
The thrust here is
to "de-nationalize" the city, then turn it over to "transnational
actors." In un-politically correct language, some people might call
The underlying tone of this article seems to hint at the need for
cities that are exempt from local, regional or national control. A
similar concept was acted out in so-called Free Trade Zones (FTZ)
that are set up to allow investment and manufacturing in designated
areas that are at least partially free of tariffs and other trade
restrictions. In 2002, there were some 43 million people working in
FTZs worldwide. As FTZ's are to manufacturing, so the Global City is
to corporate operations.
Sassen further talks about an "expanding network of global cities",
indicating that these cities are interconnected in ways that foster
global business. In other words, in addition to infrastructure
issues like communications, there are similarities that must exist
between these cities that provides a common experience for urban
dwellers as they move about.
Future: Making a Home for Homo Urbanus
In this article, authors Tibaijuka, Maseland and Moor declare that
"we are rapidly becoming a species of city dwellers - homo urbanus,"
and that this "is not without complications."
What they view as complications is very pointed:
"Residual rural attitudes and
institutions are major reasons why cities do not work well for
all residents, marginalizing some and excluding others.
Transferring into an urban context long-held prejudices and a
natural fear of strangers - a fear that is intimately connected
to rural settlements - provides the basis for dysfunctional
social relationships. Prejudice and fear slow the wheels of both
commerce and government..."
If cities were not socially superior to
rural culture, they assure us that,
"through their economies of scale,
cities provide products and services more cheaply and more
effectively than is possible in the countryside."
[Editor's Note: These are the proverbial ignorants who think
milk in the grocery store comes from a carton. This editor would
like to see them manage a herd of dairy cows in downtown New
York, or grow soybeans in urban Chicago.]
To these writers, the Global City goes
beyond just physical infrastructure issues -- it is a state of mind.
It requires "a new positive thinking among its inhabitants." What is
holding this positive thinking back? Evil rural mentality.
Because they are convinced that "our future is inevitably an urban
one," they finally conclude that,
"for our cities to arrive at this
role we need to create the political will and learn how to live as
an urban species, rather than as a rural species living in higher
of World Cities
Several study groups are "slicing and dicing" the data to determine
which cities are truly Global Cities. There are some differences in
approach and measurements, and even some heated discussions at the
resulting conclusions. Most of the heat comes from the Mayors of
cities that are put far down the list.
GaWC (Globalization and World Cities Study Group & Network)
created the table below which lists cities in order of their "Global
Connectivity Score." Secondarily, they are listed by World Rank and
US Rank. Note how the column US Level of Globality stratifies groups
of cities by letters A through H. A or B cities include New York,
Chicago and Los Angeles.
The bottom of the list isn't so kind. If you are Baltimore, Phoenix
or Cincinnati, you are "Unimportant regional-global centers." Let's
hope that these cities get over their Neanderthal rural attitudes
and develop more positive and cooperative mind sets.
US LEVEL OF
premier global city
Major specialist world cities
Minor specialist world cities
Important regional-global centers
Secondary regional centers
Minor regional-global centers
Unimportant regional-global centers
A Network of
It is not enough that Global Cities exist by themselves, but rather
they need to be interconnected in every conceivable way:
electronically, financially, with standardized services and employee
This writer's 25 year career in the computer industry saw the
release of the very first IBM Personal Computer (PC) and the entire
history of networks used to connect people and offices in diverse
locations. In the early days, networks were rudimentary, to say the
least. With the advent of the "network server", a souped-up PC was
designated the "controller" or "file-server" for the entire network.
It basically became the traffic cop for the whole network and was
the point of central coordination, when coordination was required.
One thing that the Global City does NOT have on the drawing board
yet is a "master controller" city. This would be a logical extension
of the concepts discussed thus far. The question is, which Global
City would be designated Master? New York? Paris? London?
Considering the supreme importance and infinite leverage of such a
Master City, this could lead to the argument of the millennium. Even
if a city could be agreed upon, how difficult would it be to
"remodel" that city to assume the role of Master City? Likely, it
would be impossible!
How much better would it be that everyone would agree to pick a
neutral, and even desolate location, and just build the Master City
from scratch. Each participant would own a share of the Master City,
giving them rights and privileges to coordinate their operations in
the subsidiary Global Cities scattered around the globe.
To repeat, this concept is not found in current literature that this
writer is aware of. We will keep close watch for it because it is a
natural extension of concepts already put forth.
Here is a challenge for you: Can you think of the perfect place for
the Master City to be constructed? If you have an idea, send an
email to this writer at
firstname.lastname@example.org. This e-mail
enabled to view it
The doctrine of the Global City is merely another sign post on the
road to globalization. Do you like it, or not?
Globalist think-tanks are spinning out volumes of research on how to
get from point A to point B, but there will never be a public vote
or even a poll taken to confirm the will of the people.
Indeed, globalists know better than to ask the people of a nation
what they think about it. Remember that France recently held a
public election for ratification of the EU treaty, and they
resoundingly voted it DOWN! We in America have never had a voice,
much less a vote, in approving or stopping America's move toward
globalization. The U.S. government has been penetrated deeply by globalist thinkers and policy-makers. Congress routinely votes
against public will, and in some cases, with impunity.
The stubbornness of global thinkers is amazing. For instance, there
is absolutely no public mandate for the U.S. to be part of the CAFTA
(Central American Free Trade Agreement) treaty -- which is more
far-reaching and potentially harmful than the NAFTA (North American
Free Trade Agreement) treaty was that went into effect in 1994.
However, even as recently as June 6, 2005, President Bush,
his proposals for a hemisphere-wide free trade agreement, saying it
will open the way to peace and prosperity for all nations of the
Americas and reduce the attraction of 'false ideologies'."
The advent of the Global City will supercharge the rush to globalism.
It is assumed by the global elite to be as inevitable as the sun
coming up tomorrow -- a forgone conclusion.
Considering how far they
have pushed their plans thus far, there is little reason to think
they won't achieve these plans just as easily.