A website revolving around the social and economical injustices brought about by Globalization. Also, questioning if Globalization does in fact exist or just a progression from 18th Century imperialism?

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Is Globalization a positive or negative force?

Again, to answer this question, evaluation of two conflicting claims is probably wise. Firstly, the explanation by those that are commonly named as "Positive Globalists", these would say Globalization is a phenomena that offers us new opportunities (freedom of movement, diversification of media, easier access to information, world unity, the availability of McDonalds and Asian cuisines in the same town or city, new technologies etc). The opposite of this claim ultimately comes from the "Pessimistic Globalists", that in some respects involve Feminists, Social Democrats and Nationalists alike. Their argument is that Globalization has negative repercussions (gives the super-states new possibilities to dominate world markets, the Northern Hemisphere have permission from the global authorities to rape natural exhaustible resources from the southern hemisphere, national sovereignty is lost to new global elitists, neo-liberalism and privatisation becomes more frequent resulting in the sale of water, electricity, energy, agriculture etc to profiteering corporatists, McDonalds/Disney/CNN/Hollywood is force-fed to the poor, poverty increases). These are a few explanations of how globalization works within two very differing points of view.

Positive Globalists, by definition, will probably turn to the achievements of the West to show their critiques that Globalization does in fact work. If you live in America, Canada, Britain, Western Europe or Oceania, you will have a higher chance of experiencing a better standard of living than if you lived anywhere else. Food, according to them, is both more nutritious and varied in Western Supermarkets; communication is faster and more accessible; media is more informed, impartial and global; trade is more intensified and widespread. On top of this, there are those that suggest this fairly recent phenomenon has the capability to prevent the disparity between the rich and poor, to feed the impoverished with either Free Trade or Genetically modified foods. Some Radicals will even go as far to say that war and tribalism will become a thing of the past since Globalization makes people interdependent on others - giving people, regions and countries the incentive to be passive. Evidence to support the Positive Globalists usually comes in the form of the Northern Hemisphere, they suggest the poverty of the Southern Hemisphere (Australia and New Zealand excluded) is the result of globalization not being as involved as it should.

Pessimistic Globalists, whether you associate the term with protestors that congregate outside world summits wielding placards and upside down flags, or the intellectuals that are making a self-made trade in film-documentaries and literature, will argue avidly against the Positive Globalists. Their main argument is that the proposed theory of Globalization eradicating the widening gap between the rich and poor is not only falsified, but going in the opposite direction. Free Trade, according to Pessimistic Globalists, is an arrangement whereby developing countries are forced to open up their manufacturing industries, public services and domestic markets to the new global managers (America and the EU), with the World Trade Organization being the broker. With the introduction of privatisation and deregulation in these Lesser Developed Countries (LDC's), their basic supplies (water, electricity, energy and food) has increased in price, unskilled workers have lost their jobs or have been hired by companies to work in illegal working conditions and at very low pay. Human rights has since become an "inconvenience" in the context of competitive open markets of which the LDC's now inhabit. Simplified, Pessimistic Globalists will call Globalization "Westernisation" or "Western Imperialism". It enables the West to protect their own industries with subsidies, but can suck dry the exhaustible resources elsewhere of which the third world depends upon for its own sustainability and for trade. Evidence to support the Pessimistic Globalists comes in the form of the landless peasants in Brazil, the Chiapas Zapatista's in Mexico, the AIDS epidemic, starvation and malnutrition of Africans, the attempted overthrow of Chavez in Venezuela to name but a few.

Of course, this is a very general glance over a complex and huge subject. Not even covering the Cultural arguments (a network media for the worlds people or an imposing Hollywood and US dominance?), Social (easier and quicker access to travel or forced migration of human beings to seek work and shelter?) and Political (the eradication of dictatorships by global authorities or a breakdown of nation-state sovereignty and welfare state provision?). Again, the question "Is Globalization a positive or negative force?" depends on the individual who is asking or the person that is answering. When Anthony Giddens, one of the modern protagonists on the subject of Globalization, was commenting on this very conundrum, he quoted "...rather than global village, this is more like global pillage" [Giddens, 1999]. Suggesting that Globalization isn’t working for the benefit of all, but favouring a select few.


Giddens, A (1999) Runaway World, The BBC Reith Lectures, London, BBC Radio 4, BBC Education

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