Globalization

Globalization seems to be almost a mythical word. As mentioned by Jerry Mander, media in the West almost unilaterally portray it as another step of ‘progress’ towards a ‘better world.’ [1] Consequently, as a striking opposition to smiling men in suits, media present shots of ‘globalization opponents’ which are portrayed solely as violent anarchists throwing paving stones on some or other demonstration against a meeting of G8, or any Bretton Woods institution for that matter. This inaccurate and misleading approach creates in public the perceived dichotomy of the supporters and opponents of globalization; the first are associated with the ‘educated’ and the latter with the ‘asocial rabble subverting the current effort for a better, liberal world order for all humanity.’

The world is nevertheless never so simple that it could be summarized as a battle of the forces of good against the forces of evil. The academic literature which supports the case against globalization exists, even it is flourishing and is supported by many erudite and distinguished scholars, whose ideas unfortunately, do not seem to fit into the contemporary political state of affairs. Academics like Alasdair MacIntyre, Michael Sandel or Charles Taylor [2] are communitarians supporting localized management of political and economic affairs against the globalization, which they accuse of destroying both local culture and economy.

Charles Taylor for instance launches a powerful criticism of classical, modern and neo liberalisms that they by their atomist approach to society and their reliance on the abstract idea of ‘individual’ forgot the importance of those of our nearest – family, friends, communities – in fact, the importance of all social ties. Although the liberal thought emphasizes the ‘individual’ it perceives him only as an abstract entity – as something self-reliant, self-sufficient, – as ‘being as such.’ But as Taylor rightly mentions it is precisely the social influence, interaction with others, the bonds we create – our social ties – that create our individuality. The identity is not thus not lost, when I join a squash club, or by being for instance a member of the British Conservative Party. Quite contrary – the membership of these groups and their influence become the part of me – the part of my ‘identity.’ The same obviously applies for the groups I have not willingly chosen – the family or the Czech nationality – whether I like it or not, they either negatively or positively (or obviously by something in between) influence the possibilities of my reasoning. Indeed, I can for example ‘distance’ myself from me being a Czech; however, this is only a negative reaction with this particular group, emerging from the simple fact that I have been a member.

The importance of the ties to communities – as I have already mentioned in some of my previous articles – is however being underestimated and constantly devaluated by liberalism and their friends in business – trans-national corporations. What we have seen in the recent years has been the process of the creation of the global market supported after the Second World War by the establishment of the Bretton Woods institutions. The global market however – instead of creating a greater standard of living for all – as was the intended goal – creates great social dislocation. The countries which agreed to the conditions of the Bretton Woods institution to lift up their tariffs and accepted financial loans have today their national economies in tatters and their resources and labour is used by the transnational corporations to produce cheap goods for the West.

Another important issue is the ‘monopolization’ of the global market – in Europe and the US there is now almost no national distinctiveness of production – McDonalds, Starbucks, GAP, Coca Cola etc. – are everywhere and the local business has no condition how to fight the prices of these transnational corporations.

Most importantly however, national governments themselves seem to have lost all control over transnational corporations. If these corporations encounter any ‘threat’ to their practices inside a nation, they are free to move their subsidies anywhere they want – around the whole globe where they will be provided with much better conditions. The first result of which will be total inability of the ‘rebellious’ country to compete with much cheaper goods from outside its borders and unemployment.

As communitarians suggest, the only visible solution seems to be for greater localization and autonomization of national economies. The emergence of new governmental structures – like the stronger EU for instance – might add to these efforts. However, at the present it seems that the EU wholeheartedly supports neo-liberal policies and might well become even become one of the greatest catalysts of globalization.

 

 

[1] Jerry Mander, ‘Introduction: Facing the Rising Tide’, in The Case Against the Global Economy & for a Turn Towards Localization, ed. E. Goldsmith & J. Mander (London, Earthscan Publications, 2003).

[2] For these authors see for instance: Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 2007); Michael Sandel (ed), Liberalism and Its Critics (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1982); Charles Taylor, Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1994).

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