IS GLOBALIZATION INEVITABLE?

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GLOBALIZATION 7

Is globalization inevitable?

Introduction

Globalization is the integration and interaction of people from different background through information technology while pursuing investment and international trade. While it is a capitalist-world system spreading across the world, it has made the world a global village where people share culture, services, goods and ideas. Although some authors have argued that globalization has harmonized cultures and technological literacy, it is not inevitable. Globalization will not only go on reversal but also serves a few elite interested in centralized economic models. As the world witnesses increasing religious extremism and growing income inequalities, it is unlikely that globalization will open up new territories with closed cultures and the strong desire for economic protectionism. The fire of globalization is getting into regular and constant rejection as nations create physical walls on their borders and withdraw from regional economic and political unions. Therefore, globalization process is not inevitable.

Globalization is not inevitable

Arguments on the inevitability of globalization as an evolutionary process continue as explicit decisions taken by national governments and specific international agreements take center stage. Given the inevitable creation of market forces, Banerjee and Linstead (2001) argue that globalization is rooted in the logic of expanding markets under capitalism. According to Martin, et al. (2006) globalization is an unavoidable evolution operating as a stand-alone process and not resulting from actions of some particular actor. Economic policies of financial transaction deregulation and the restrictions reduction on capital movement and trade describe the process of globalization (World Trade Report, 2008, p. 21). These policies are being pursued by multinationals and are an important fact of life. Despite the political rhetoric, virtually all countries with multinationals are concerned over space to compete in other countries. For example, leftist politicians and some non-governmental organizations agitate against multinationals, but it stands as an irrefutable force. Moreover, the policies that should be tightening are instead easing. Meanwhile, demographics and international migration are exhibiting benign attitudes and more open doors (Stiglitz, 2010). As the population in the developed countries age and reproductive levels fall, there is a possibility of collapse in the social security systems (Scott, 1997). This means that immigration suddenly will stand as a solution to social security problems and labor shortages in these countries. Skilled labor from developing countries will have an opportunity to take advantage of skilled immigration and a shift in legal immigration systems.

On the contrary, Smith (2009) shows that globalization stands a higher likelihood of going into reversal once oil prices reach a certain level. Exorbitant oil prices discourage international transport of both people and goods. As the resource become hard to obtain or scarce, its price will soar leading to increased international conflict and a reduction in international contact. Oil will be much harder to be bought by poorer nations as they deeply resent the richer nations. For example, most developing countries have more prices per barrel compared to rich nations and occasionally experience rioting while their governments blame external forces for the predicament. The rich countries will jostle each other once they sense that their economic survival is dependent on continued access to the resource (Smith, 2009). For instance, the Gulf war in the early 1990s against Iraq affected oil supplies to China, Russia and France as well as its critical future source to the United States. This shows that, globalization should not be underestimated for all its merits. The success of globalization and integration of the world economy needs the cooperation and support of both developing and developed nations (Freeden, 2003, p.4). Nevertheless, the most powerful obstacles to globalization still remain to be cultural barriers. An alternative vision of society with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism offers has been changed by persistent high unemployment and exploding population especially young people (Friedman, 1999). Yet, optimism still offers the globalization benefits in terms of competition, jobs and investment (Martin, et al., 2006). Similarly, far stronger are the forces in support of globalization as opposed to those that go against. True, globalization accelerated in the late 19th century and stopped after the First World War and is likely to head back there. As a result, it is likely to see how globalization reverses.

On the other hand, Steger (2003) argues that globalization continues to produce numerous conflicts along the way and is a highly uneven phenomenon. Today, multiple globalizations exist and encompass a morass of sharing ideas, commodities, capital and people. The typical account of technical homogenization and interrelated markets resulted from a complicated process. Although culture is at the center of this mix, current and future conflicts happen within the fault lines of globalization and not along the fault lines of civilizations (Stiglitz, 2010). For example, fate and shape of the today’s Middle East need not be perceived with disparate value systems or basically a cultural equation with Islam. The expansionist view and the universal perspective of globalization have led to this region being seen as a product of a political economy and whose requirements coincide with local structural capacities (Appadurai, 1996). This shows that globalization in one way or another is indeed inevitable. Nonetheless, for much of the world, the adjudicators are still out there to rule on what globalization represents. Today, this process in many regards is difficult to precisely identify who controls the ‘consensus’ and the ‘trade regimes’ as nations develop synergies. However, economists expect massive rollbacks out of which globalization, as it is known, may become somewhat stagnant and scattered (Freeden, 2003). Nations are now shapers of exchange systems and active participants in a globalized economic system of trade, borrowing and international cooperation (Friedman, 1999). For example, locally and pragmatically produced goods and services from networked co-operatives and micro-industries have leveraged a common infrastructure in international production and trade. With many stakeholders in international bilateral and multilateral agreements it is possible to have an open source globalization.

Globalization, a set of policy priorities, is not an inevitable process. According to Freeden (2003) global corporations benefit certain economic and political elites whose interest is a centralized economic model. While they seem as economic growth engines, substitute policies have and do constantly exist. This means that globalization is a continuation of imperialism and colonialism processes. After the World War II, nations emphasized privatization, deregulation, financial market liberalization and specific neo-liberal policies of free trade (Charlton & Stiglitz, 2005). This model is not globalization but basically taking capital, natural and human resources from the masses to benefit the few. The main institutions associated with modern globalization such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have been criticized by many developing countries for their woes. Under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, United Nations assumed the alternative role of adopting proposals on global finance, trade and development to boost growth of Third World Nations (Choe, 2001). Yet, the United States and Europe rebuffed these attempts and ensured that the Bretton Woods institutions continue to become tools for expanding their corporate access. Faced with regular rejections, the fire of globalization is running out. For example, the exit of Britain from the European Union in the recent referendum is an indication of a resistance to free trade, immigration and global outsourcing. A Human Development Report by United Nations in 2010 explains that the players and their new rules of globalization neglecting the people’s needs not met by markets as they focus on integrating global markets (United Nations, 2010). This process marginalizes the poor and concentrates power among people and countries. As a result, people are now banding together themselves and electing new leaders to form a growing movement for change that is diverse and strong. Contrary to the globalization view, people are adopting alternative policies that prioritize on economic justice, social and environmental sustainability and equality.

Friedman (1999) argues that ongoing globalization is a phenomenon that is certainly is inexorable and inevitable. In the last three centuries, there have been remarkable waves of ‘globalization’ owing to impressive technical improvements, goods markets, labor, and increased integration of capital. However, globalization had apparently generated new inequalities causing domestic political reactions and making the past experiences came to an end (Stiglitz, 2013). On the other hand, there are obvious signals of domestic reactions and debates today where large developed countries are experiencing job losses and over outsourcing. The impact of external conflicts ended earlier globalization eras. Wars, regardless of the magnitude, have people thinking less in terms of collective goods and mutual advantage and more in terms of relative gains and losses and security. Countries will exclude foreign-produced goods, even if it carries a high cost, because they are a threat to national security (Friedman, 1999). Despite migrants being security threats and the world being obsessed by conflict, globalization and demand for international skills transcends borders. For example, foreigners saw Britain as ruling the waves in the late nineteenth century globalization because she waived the rules. Globalization may be seen as an American power extension by many non-Americans in the twenty-first century, and rejecting it may be expensive and will lead to rise in poverty (Choe, 2001). An illogical Imposition of hegemonic power is continuously being reinterpreted as the world inclines to interdependent global order.

Continued globalization is not inevitable and in the past, it has been reversed by shortsighted policies depressions and wars. In future, Lee and Vivarelli (2006) note that it can be reversed again by xenophobic immigration policies, protectionist measures and a time of protracted unemployment in leading economies. For example, the recent referendum of June 2016 the Britain voted to exit the European Union is an evidence of anti-globalization and reaction to competitive devaluations. While this exit may have been triggered by fears of immigration and terrorism, such a trend will tighten immigration, border controls and visa policies. Again, the flow of goods and people across nations is being hindered by a new wave of terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. Moreover, large U.S. current account and fiscal deficits will severely weaken globalization and lead to disruptions in capital markets and global currency (Banerjee & Linstead, 2001). Nonetheless, the United States has failed to strengthen science and math in K-12 education, which will make many Americans support new restrictions from foreign competition as they believe that they cannot compete in the global economy that is knowledge driven. Advances in technology are anticipated to reduce cost of information transmission and increase the broadband capacity (Arnett, 2002). While this will facilitate robust global importer or supplier networks, increased demand by buyers on corporate social responsibility among producers is likely to hinder supply chains and production across continents and borders (Lee & Vivarelli, 2006). Some nations such as China and Russia continue to stick to socialism, communism, and protectionism in the last three decades (Freeden, 2003). Still, many African countries are not able to sell their services, farm crops and manufactured goods in the global economy due to unfavorable trade terms and policies. This shows that globalization has limits and may be reversed by political actions and strong sentiments against exports to industrialized nations.

Conclusion

Globalization is not an inevitable process given the realignments by nations and regional economies to protect their industrial goods and services. Although policies of free trade and common markets inform regional agreements for trade, continued political tensions and international conflicts will likely reverse the globalization wave. Third world economies view globalization as the American desire to preserve hegemonic power over other nations and will try to resist such attempts. Some nations, such as UK, are pulling out of the European Union which indicates that there could be a silent view among many other industrialized nations against open borders, free trade and outsourcing. These sentiments are likely to bring to an end the wave of globalization that was exhibited in the late twentieth century. This period was evidenced by the attempt by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to recommend deregulation, privatization and opening of borders for free trade. This implies that globalization is not inevitable and can be reversed.

References

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Arnett, J. (2002). The Psychology of Globalization. American Psychologist, 57(10): 774-783.

Banerjee , S. & Linstead, S. (2001). Globalization, Multiculturalism and Other Fictions: Colonialism for the New Millennium? Organization. Sage Social Science Collections, 8(4): 684-722.

Charlton, A. & Stiglitz, J. E. (2005). Fair Trade for All, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Choe, Y. (2001). Does going global mean Americanization? The Korea Herald. 5(2): 3-8.

Freeden, M. (2003). Editorial: ideological boundaries and ideological systems. Journal of Political Ideologies, 8(1): 3-4.

Friedman, T. (1999). The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, p. 9.

Lee, E., & Vivarelli, M. (2006). The Social Impact of Globalization in the Developing Countries. Discussion Paper No. 1925. Bonn, Germany: The Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), 1- 25.

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