The Myth of Globalization

S A Hamed Hosseini

Still a significant part of the current globalization literature represents a very popular yet narrow interpretation of global change (known as globalist approach) that emphasizes the “growing” integrity of the world and the declining power/sovereignty of nation-states in such a context. This perspective gained momentum after the collapse of Communist block in the late 1980s. However, the reality of global change since then has proved much more complex than what is described by globalists. The globalist idea of Global Village (and the like) is challenged by alternative theories. Issues that are rightfully questioned are as follows:

  1. The very Euro-centric nature of globalist theories (like the theory of global village): as this view mostly represent what the wealthy nations and their upper/middle class citizens’ experience (due to their access to internet, investment in corporations, affordable transportation, capital, market, etc.).

  2. The linearity of globalization is also questioned. In fact the history of what we may call globalization has witnessed significant Ups and Downs, advancements and regression (like the 1920s-30s Great Depression, the 1970s world recession), the collapse of dot.com market in 2000-2001, the so-called Asian Financial Crisis (1997-8), the 9/11 attacks and the rise of ideological clashes around identity and cultural autonomy, and finally the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and its consequent great recession in Europe and North America. It is interesting that when a crisis happens in the West, it will be described as GLOBAL whereas when this would happen in somewhere else it would only be seen as something regional (like the Asian economic crisis!); another testimony to the Euro-centric nature of globalist discourses.

  3. The Asymmetrical nature of globalization: While we may celebrate the integration of many populations into the world markets as something beneficial due to the rising job opportunities and growth rates in some places, we also need to acknowledge and theorize the polarization of the world, especially the widening gaps between the global North and the global South and even within each of these camps. In such a fast polarizing world, the integration of billions of people who have to live on only 1 or 2 dollars a day is highly questionable. Besides, not all nation states are equally exposed to global forces and thereby their sovereignties have not been equally/similarly challenged. The more powerful a state is, the more likely it influences globalization instead of being influenced by it.

  4. The paradoxes of globalization; the term globalization refers to so many contradictory issues and experiences (for instance a society may get highly globalized in terms of its consumption patterns but it would at the same time become highly isolated and weakened in terms of its capacity to deal with global environmental or global health issues like AIDS etc. While many poor people in the South are deprived of the benefits of globalization and therefore live on the wrong side of it, the are at the same time highly connected to the capitalist world markets when it comes to the exploitation of their resources and labour. Similarly, while many members of upper classes in the north (or even south) are highly globalized in terms of their financial or economic activities (reaching every corner of the world to find good opportunities) they are at the same time highly disconnected from the world in terms of their authority in controlling their capital (i.e. the concentration of wealth in the hands of view questions the ideas that wealth or capital is globalized!).

  5. The newness of globalization: Although the term globalization is a rather new term in the literature, many believe that the world was more integrated and interconnected in terms of population movements and even trade in the late 19th and early 20th century; in fact an excessive integration controlled by old imperial powers and their companies (like the East Indian Company) finally led to two World Wars (a rivalry between the world powers) and a Great Depression in between the wars.

You may also consult the following resources

  1. Globalization: A Triumph of Ambiguity / Martha C. E. Van Der Bly

  2. The third wave in globalization theory / Luke Martell

  3. The northern theory of globalization / Raewyn Connell

or watch the following speech by Prof. Chomsky:

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