I have always been an avid supporter of globalization; believing that it has brought prosperity, chance and equality to the world. Most of this has come through trade, opportunism and wealth – or that is what I thought. However, upon reading a recent article by David Held and Anthony McGrew (2003) “The Great Globalization Debate: An Introduction”, despite being difficult to capture, it has taught me something completely different to the way globalization operates.
First, a start, globalization lacks the significance it boasts. You would not be criticised if you thought that without globalization the United Kingdom would not have an economy. This to a degree is correct, but the paradigms that the British economy and Spain’s economy are deeply intertwined are somewhat short of the mark. McGrew and Held highlight this throughout their ‘introduction’. I think what is most important to recognise is that what has accelerated this is the ideal of mass-consumerism and the idea of the national [person] becoming transnationally mobile. However, before going into the financial aspects of globalization let us give credit where credit is due. The politicians would have you think that we benefit massively from globalization: this is correct. Globalization, according to McGrew and Held (2003), is a process whereby global integration is mobilised through accelerating interdependence, which is a result of the ‘shrinking world’. Because of the argument that globalization does not signify an integration of banking systems and business rules, the two academics propose a different meaning ‘internationalization’. It seems more appropriate, as it is truer. The globe is not coming together – as globalization would suggest – as we continue to be bound by regionalization and coalitions (the Pacific arena, Europe, America, and now a mass-producing China). These coalitions are more important than the process of globalization as it seeks to orchestrate a consensus on policy aims and objectives. Therefore, why it is that newsreaders and journalists, politicians and academics still bless an ‘ization’, which fundamentally fails to affect the ‘ordinary’ people. Pop into a regional papers outlook in Portsmouth, Newcastle or Liverpool and it is highly unlikely that there will be news surrounding a global pact between two countries over, say, race relations. Why? Well, people are still concerned with local and regional problems.
As with most ‘issues’ there are two main paradigms that seek to have the upper ground on globalization. The criminal justice system and the competing theories of ‘crime-control’ and ‘due-process’, a similar relationship occurs with globalization. However, their terms are more accessible as they are simply labelled the ‘Sceptics’ and the ‘Globalists’. Easy. Well, I say that but they are quite complex in their attitudes. Assuming definitions by name, sceptics would be objecting to globalization. However, all that really changes is their definitions. Held and McGrew (2004:6) highlight that the globalists are pro-globalism and believe in a global consensus incorporating military initiatives, political, cultural and social power to a universal power. This is definitely something that most nationalists would be highly opposed – I am sure the people of Great Britain would be ashamed by this, so only God knows what those in North Korea and Iran would be thinking. Globalists also consider the wider world in which globalized policies involve and the fact that the ‘truth of power no longer reaches the locales in which it is immediately experienced in’. However, on the contrary there are competing voices as expressed previously. The sceptics, for example, believe that there should be no universalism; instead, states should be free to express their own national policies in light of domestic policies. This, for me personally, is an interesting point and would be what I feel is the most closest to the way in which we govern today. Despite us having the European Union reaching over our sovereignty we still can uphold massive areas of political policy, so long as it does not infringe on any of the European Human Rights – a rightful piece of legislation, which is the only piece of legislation I wholeheartedly agree with universal implementation.
Something that the two academics both notice in the article is the idea that we live under an economic umbrella and that we really do not have much choice in the collapse of one economy to the other. With that statement in mind, it is important to consider the result of the financial collapse. Despite the Conservative’s (in the UK) persistence that Labour started and caused the ‘deep’ credit crunch there is no doubt in my mind that it was because of ‘dirty’ money, in the United States, being handed between unreliable parties. Now, if our economies were not as intertwined as what these two argue then we should never have been so crushed by these consequences. However, we were. Why? Well not necessarily, because their economic policy is our economic policy, but mainly because of the transnational companies that dominate many countries in the world. Goldman Sachs, AIG, Lehman Brothers were mainly American operative businesses but their cash injections were felt as greatly as the collapse of them. We were ‘recessionised’ with America – so was Japan, Spain, Germany, France, etc. However, what I feel the point that these two academics argue well is the idea that we are no longer reliant on trade and flows of capital between states are not as high as what they were. Frankly, I believe the European Union is possibly the most ‘close’ and integrated of all the state coalitions around the world – we receive directives on employment laws, labour contracts, human rights, human trafficking, bank bonuses, etc. However, in a general transnational view, economies are less integrated as what most of us tend to believe. The idea of a globe as one is much less fitting than an international coalition – the latter being the more appropriate, I feel. What I do feel is apparent as touched upon above is the dominance of coalitions such as the EU and the G7. In effect, they work well together, but in practice, they tend to marginalise and segregate our world. Let us be honest the world is not just representative of the US, UK and the other five remaining G7 countries. It incorporates a lot more of the Southern countries. The countries where the sweatshops still exist, where the ‘favela’ still operate and where the human rights of people are still being impinged The divide goes further with the South still heavily reliant on the export of primary goods, such as raw materials, and the North now heavily developed in manufactured goods, such as cars, white goods, commercialised products.
I believe that globalization is not something for the governments to worry about if they are keen on ensuring sovereignty is maintained; but there is cause for concern in some areas. Those who act less rational may believe ‘they’re taking over” and we need to “get out of Europe” but the fact is we’re not restricted to a worse degree – we are being bettered as a result of. HM Queen Elizabeth II is still the Queen; David Cameron is still our Prime Minister; Boris Johnson is still the Mayor of London; Karen Buck is still my local MP. When President Obama visits the UK from the USA he does not assume authority on all of the issues, look at Gordon Brown in the handling of G8 – he negotiated his way through some of the key ideas needed to save the economies. This is the key word: negotiate. Negotiation is the option whereas state interdependence is the compulsion.