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Bronze-level article

Globalization

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By the lowest recogning, India, the Seres and the Arabian peninsula take from our empire hundreds of millions of Sesterces a year; that is how much our luxuries and women cost us
Pliny the Elder, showing that this is nothing new

Globalization is the term given to the increased inter-connectedness of culture, economics and social interaction. Planes can carry people (or packages) around the world in less time than it used to take to travel between nearby towns. Money and ownership can change as rapidly as electrons flowing through cable. The globalized world knew about the war in the country of Georgia about as quickly as people in Russia did. People flow freely too, and attempts to stem the tides of immigration have been failing around the world.

All you need to know: it creates a lot of good things, and some bad things at the same time.

Impact[edit]

The idea disturbs some nations as they see it as an encroachment on their own indigenous cultures.

Experts are divided on what effect globalization is going to have on the socio-political environment. Some argue that culture and national identity will become meaningless, with people instead merging across state lines into larger cooperative groups, like the EU or a stronger UN. Others believe states will become meaningless as people look for strength in smaller, tribal groupings.

The Brexit victory and the surprise election of Donald Trump in 2016 has signified the rise of a growing anti-globalization movement, rooted in the fear of change.

Inability to halt progression[edit]

One thing that all proponents do agree on is that globalization is not something that can be easily (or desirably) undone. The communications revolution has opened up trade, and much of globalization is based on the free flow of ideas and markets. Moreover, it's been argued that while states have tried hard to slow or stop the spread of various kinds of transnationalism, they have been unable to do so. Globalization has opened up, and partially removed, nationalistic boundaries.

That said however, it's very easy to take this sentiment and slide into "end of history" mode or what some would call "globaloney."[1] See Thomas Friedman.

Examples of products[edit]

One thing to keep in mind: Whenever someone rails against the evils of globalization to you, ask them if they enjoy any of the following:

  • Foreign cuisine, like the ever trendy Indian food... and contaminated milk and baby formula from China.
  • Government organizations like the FDA being created in response to your own international export scandals.
  • Foreign entertainment (including martial arts movies and art house flicks)
  • The lowered prices on everything at Wal-Mart OK, never mind.
  • The ability to communicate instantly and quickly with other anti-globalization activists thanks to the Internet and text messaging, but not knowing any of your own neighbors.
  • The ability to actually find out about all sorts of disasters on the other side of the world, and also the ability of nutjobs to recruit from all over the world.
  • Websites like this, but also websites like that.
  • The ability of high end colleges to train the best and brightest throughout the world, rather than only the people lucky enough to be born in the West.[2]
  • Said universities having fewer slots available for local born people. At least they need more janitors!
  • Closed factories in the Rust Belt that were horribly inefficient anyway.
  • Pittsburgh losing half its population since 1979.
  • The rapid advance in technology due to collaboration between hundreds of thousands of scientists and engineers throughout the globe.
  • Being able to discover just what horrors your government has been up to overseas rather than taking their word that everything was on the up and up.
  • The ability to join an international organization and actually make a difference in the undeveloped world, and also the ability for omnicidal maniac nutjubs to recruit from all over the world.

Critiques of the globalization paradigm[edit]

The Jamaican patty, and not the Big Mac, is the culinary legacy of globalization.
The need of a constantly expanding market for its products drives the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto.

Fred Cooper[edit]

As Fred Cooper points out in Colonialism in Question, there are two things wrong with "globalization" as a term for understanding the world's networks of information, economic and cultural exchanges — the "global" and the "-ization." By this, Cooper means that it is still problematic to talk about globalization as a solid unified, worldwide and singular process when one takes into account the extent to which different social groups experience and are affected by the alleged phenomenon in different ways.

"Re-branding"[edit]

Another criticism portrays "globalization" as nothing new — from the Indian Ocean trade of the twelfth century to the Atlantic system of the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, people, ideas, information, commodities, technologies and money have been moving around the globe for a very long time now. The pace at which things move may have accelerated somewhat, but the networks carrying them have been around for centuries.

The legacies of these older forms of globalization can be found in the "traditions" that people want to protect against the perils of contemporary globalization. Consider, if you will, the Jamaican patty, a "traditional" West Indian food. It's essentially a Scottish meat pie filled with Indian curry, prepared by and sold to disaporic Africans in the Caribbean — a delicious treat impossible to conceive of in a pre-globalized world.

In fact, history has shown that contrary to much of what has been said on the aforementioned "inability to halt progression", globalization can not only be slowed but can actually go in reverse as well. Much of the rhetoric about the impending borderless world had been repeated ad nauseam in previous generations under different words. One example involved Norman Angell's 1909 book The Great Illusion, which in addition to espousing a bright globalized future, posited that there's no more need for such things as war.[3] And in the 1920s and 1930s the Comintern's version of globalization[4] led to the Anti-Comintern Pact[5] as a globe-spanning counter-measure. It took a little time to sort out that global one-up-man-ship.

A real critique[edit]

In modern trade, with lowered tariff barriers, manufacturers chase the cheapest source of labor available. This has led to the de-industrialization of Western democracies and a horrible trade deficit with low-wage nations. Not only are Third World nations prone to incredibly cheap labor (infamously referred to as sweatshops), on top of that they keep their currency cheap to encourage exports, instead of letting it float on the market — which true globalism would expect.

Other critiques focus on the tendencies to exaggerate just how "global" globalization is in practice and conflate an "ought" with "is." Despite the rhetoric and buzzwords, the global economy in reality (for now, at least) still acts more like a series of clustered regional markets. The flow of labor and transnational issues like terrorism and climate change meanwhile reveal the continuing significance of nation-states and regional blocs. Only a small proportion of the world's population live in countries other than their place of origin[6] (though this doesn't necessarily reflect choice; it's still ridiculously difficult to migrate internationally outside of preexisting treaty blocs like the EU or ECOWAS and there are far more people who want to migrate than are allowed to) while even the most seemingly cosmopolitan regions of the world remain largely domestic, with little sign of this changing in the immediate future. Neither are local identities on the verge of being erased anytime soon, given the trend towards "glocalization" as well as the fact that online traffic remains largely confined to one's backyard.[7]

Another criticism of the anti-globalization movement is that not only is globalization not a recent phenomena, it predates the story of Jesus. Thousands of years ago, the Romans used to complain that their wealth was flowing to the Seres[8] via the Silk RoadWikipedia's W.svg and other trade routes, more or less the same parts of the world people blame today. Yet somehow, civilization still exists (even if it takes a Dark-Age hiatus from time to time). If anything, the trade with the East was what allowed Rome to grow in the first place; it wasn't just goods but ideas that also were transferred, ideas like writing,[9] engineering, glass throwing, medicines, etc. While what Rome had built may have been impressive for the time, Roman technology, like that of all societies, improved upon what had been done before rather than starting from scratchWikipedia's W.svg.

Astroturf[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Astroturf

The Russian government has sponsored an anti-globalist astroturf organization called The Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia (Антиглобалистское движение России).[10] The so-called Calexit campaign seeks a California secession from the United States. A Calexit ballot initiative, sponsored by Yes California, has received financial aid from and partnered with AIGM.[10] AIGM has a Calexit "embassy" in Moscow.[11]

The stated aim of AIGM is "against the global dominance of transnational corporations and supranational trade and financial institutions",[12] but is more likely specifically against economic dominance of the United States and the EU.

Be careful[edit]

If you're going to debate someone on the nature of globalization and it morphs into a debate on the "race to the bottom," prepare for a load of bullshit.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Michael Shermer (August 1, 2011). "Globaloney: Why the World Is Not Flat...Yet". Scientific American.
  2. This is arguably the very best thing to happen. Aside from being one way the trade deficit can be fixed, having foreign students really means having the children of rich, well connected foreigners in your schools. Even godless commies have loved ones that they would really not like to kill. At the same time, the next generation of rich, well connected foreigners will be ones that you have connections with, not to mention that the next generation of leaders happen to be sympathetic to your culture.
  3. Though in hindsight, we all know how that turned out.
  4. Eckes, Alfred E.; Zeiler, Thomas W. (2003). "4: Business Busted, Diplomacy Destroyed, 1929-1939". Globalization and the American Century. Cambridge University Press. p. 91. ISBN 9780521009065. https://books.google.com/books?id=U1RojDSCCr0C. Retrieved 2017-08--6. "Meanwhile, it was Josef Stalin's government, not Roosevelt's, that pushed its own version of globalization in diplomacy. The Comintern Congress of 1935 called for a worldwide Popular Front against the Fascist powers." 
  5. See the Wikipedia article on Anti-Comintern Pact.
  6. The World Bank and United Nations' estimates in 2013 point to roughly 3%, which while not a number to be ignored nonetheless makes up only a relatively small minority.
  7. What Ethan Zuckerman calls "imaginary cosmopolitanism."
  8. India and China
  9. The Latin alphabet, for example, was a bastardized Greek alphabet, which in turn was derived from the Tyrians Carthaginians Phoenicians, who in turn copied a few scribbles from Egypt.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Advocate's Russian ties cause concern in state secession movement by Melody Gutierrez (February 3, 2017 Updated: February 3, 2017 10:08pm) The San Francisco Chronicle.
  11. 'Calexit': Yes California movement opens ‘embassy’ in Moscow The Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia
  12. About December 22, 2016. Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia
  13. The Dark Side of Globalization: Why Seattle's 1999 Protesters Were Right, The Atlantic