Globalization has aroused mixed reactions: some regard it as a blessing while others are convinced that it is simply the old game of domination under a new name. There is an urgent need to understand the nature of the semantic processes that support this contradictory reading. It is important to realize that the resolution of this contradiction does not lie in a simplistic choice between truth and falsehood. Rather what we are witnessing is the deployment of language in a struggle to control the very picture of reality. Whatever the outcome, one thing seems certain: to understand how globalization might affect our lives, we will need a form of literacy that goes beyond simple interpretation to reflection on the social significance of acts of meaning: literacy must enable one to decide whose meanings are voiced in which acts of semiosis and for whose benefit.