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POLS 374 Foundations of Global Politics . People and Globalization. People and Globalization. Begin with a basic question: What is globalization?. People and Globalization. One definition, provided by authors, describes globalization in the following way:

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people and globalization
People and Globalization
  • Begin with a basic question: What is globalization?
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People and Globalization
  • One definition, provided by authors, describes globalization in the following way:
  • Globalization is “the closer integration of the countries and peoples of the world which has been brought about the enormous reduction of costs of transportation and communication, and the breaking down of artificial barriers to the flows of goods, services, capital, knowledge, and (to a lesser extent) people across borders”(Joseph Stigletz).
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People and Globalization
  • Another definition: Globalization is “driven by changing modes of competition [such that it] compresses the time and space aspects of social relations. [It] is a market-induced, not a policy-led, process” (James Mittelman)
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People and Globalization
  • The authors do not entirely disagree with either of these definitions, but they note that globalization has “many engines,” meaning, in part, that it is not “driven” solely economic or market processes.
  • We know this, in part, because “globalization occurred long before ‘the market’ as we know it existed.”
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People and Globalization
  • This is not to say that the market and globalization are not related. Of course they are. The are integrally related.
  • The authors point out, for example, that market globalization constituted one of the most important developments in global politics in the late nineteenth century. This was, in fact, the only other period of hyperrapid incorporation in world history.
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People and Globalization
  • This hyperrapid incoporation took place in the context of capitalist expansion and was spurred by advances in transportation, communication, and command-and-control technologies.
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People and Globalization
  • Marx and Engels were so impressed by these developments that they coined the now famous phrase, “all that is solid melts into air” to describe the scale and rate of economic, social, and political change.
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People and Globalization
  • Importantly, this was also the period in which the basic structure of the contemporary world economy was determined. This was the period, in other words, when the Third World was created.
  • What do the authors mean by this? How did globalization create the “Third World”?
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People and Globalization
  • Short answer: Globalization “shattered” local cultures and rearranged the most basic social and political relations throughout much of the world.
  • We can see, then, that even “economic globalization” is much, much more than an economic process; it is also cultural, social, political, institutional, and ideological process.
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People and Globalization
  • From the authors’ view, it would probably be best to conceive of globalization as a set of complex, multifaceted, interconnected, and often times mutually reinforcing structures or regimes.
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People and Globalization
  • The “structures and regimes” about which the authors speak, it is important to recognize, do not arise by chance, nor are they impervious to agency.
  • In fact, the authors suggest that agency can play an absolutely essential role in guiding the path of human history.
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People and Globalization
  • Consider the example they give in their chapter. They note that during a severe famine, which struck India 1876 to 1878, Britain’s viceroy (or governor) of India made decisions that had a profound impact on the Indian population and on Indian: estimates of the dead range from 5.5 to 12 million.
  • The authors suggest that much of this massive suffering could have been averted if different “agents” had been in charge, or if different decisions had been made.
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People and Globalization
  • At the same time, it is equally important to understand that any agent during this period was operating within a system of structures and regimes that set the stage for massive suffering among “colonial subjects.”
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People and Globalization
  • One of the most important structures was built on British imperialism, which, as the authors define it, is a “transnational system of structural violence built on rules and practices that confer advantageous access to resources on the imperial power, its agents, and its citizens, and corresponding disadvantages on local communities and their agents and citizens.
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People and Globalization
  • Here’s a description of how the imperial structure worked:“Farmers weren’t growing food for their own communities any longer so much as they were for the market, the highest bidder …‘For them even rising agrarian prices did not necessarily mean increasing incomes. [Instead they] tended to be a source of indebtedness rather than affording them the opportunity to accumulate surpluses.... Especially in years of bad harvests, and high prices, the petty producers were compelled to buy additional grain, and, worse, to go into debt. Then, in good years, when cereal prices were low, they found it hard to extricate themselves from previously accumulated debts.’ In short, free trade further impoverished the poorest stratum of society, ensuring a hand-to-mouth existence that preconditioned famine. (Brant Bingamon, “A Hunger for Imperialism,”http://www.texasobserver.org/showArticle.asp?ArticleID=496)
  • For more, go to The Origins of the Third World: Markets, States, and Climate by Mike Davis (http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/item.shtml?x=51983)
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People and Globalization
  • Of course, imperialism, as a structure/regime, cannot be separated from capitalism or the “market.” The authors clearly recognize this.
  • As they put it, “The most prominent structure facilitating globalization in the nineteenth century and today is the ‘market,’ vast, interconnected, national, and transnational systems of rules and practices that govern capitalist relations of production and exchange.”
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People and Globalization
  • The “market,” to repeat a point made several times already, is more than just a place where buying and selling takes place. It is an all-encompassing system of economic, social, political and social change.
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People and Globalization
  • On this point, let’s return to the authors’ conceptualization of globalization. They describe it this way:“Globalization takes many pathways. It brings people and places closer to one another at a faster and faster rate, forcing both to adjust to the continual change demanded by its disruption of social space. Strangers come to new lands to exploit resources that formerly were out of reach; people change jobs, locations, and identities repeatedly in a single lifetime.”
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People and Globalization
  • This conceptualization helps us differentiate the type of globalization that is taking place today from the type of globalization that took place in the past. One of the key differences is the pace of change: things are changing at a “faster and faster rate,” leading to a process of virtually “continual change.”
  • A big reason for this is advances in technology.
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People and Globalization
  • On one level, the relationship between technology and globalization is fairly clear: Advances in information and communications technology have given a larger and larger share of the world’s population access to genuinely global communication tools.
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People and Globalization
  • Anyone, anywhere, for example, can set up a web site that is accessible to anyone in the world. Virtually everyone has access to cell phones and other forms of information technology that were, only a few decades ago, available only to the richest citizens of the richest countries.
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People and Globalization
  • In addition, the spread of the Internet, DVDs, and satellites combined with older forms of technology—films, television, radio, etc.—is slowly creating a “globalized culture,” in which we are all becoming “neighbors.”
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People and Globalization
  • We all know about the globalization of American culture. But consider, too, the globalization of Korean pop culture: Today, throughout Asia, Korean popular entertainment has become a near-craze. One Korean mini-series, for instance, the “Jewel in the Palace,” has become one of the most watched shows in Japan, China, Taiwan, and other Asian countries; it’s now being exported to several Arab and European countries.
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People and Globalization
  • One the one hand, the creation of a globalized culture may seem to be a good thing, and more generally, the “democratization” of technology make seem to be a basically positive development. It is creating what many people refer to as a “global village.”This is good, right?
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People and Globalization
  • But there is a flipside: The closer people become, the more differences become accentuated, and the more differences become accentuated, the more they may lead to distrust, hostility, and even violence. This is especially likely when differences are seen as threats to the existing culture and the relations of power that rest upon that culture.
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People and Globalization
  • Bad Neighbors? Globalization has made Americans and Indians much “closer” through outsourcing. Has this led to more understanding, friendship, and harmony? According to one recent article, the answer is clearly no …
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People and Globalization
  • (San Franciso Chronicle) Outsourcing outrage Indian call-center workers suffer abuse. Noida, India -- While irate calls are a mainstay of customer service work in any country, many Indian call-center workers say they regularly face particular abuse from Americans, whose tantrums are sometimes racist and often inspired by anger over outsourcing.This vitriol has fueled a "searing anger" among the Indian employees. Debalina Das, 22, a computer help-line agent in the city of Hyderabad in south India, punched the button last winter for a call from the United States.The caller greeted her with a torrent of racial and sexual slurs, accused her of "roaming about naked without food and clothes" and asked, "What do you know about computers?”…. Das, who quit the job after four months, said she learned to dislike Americans. "Rarely, there are people who are good," she said by e-mail, "but then others remind me that all they believe in is cursing, and they don't have respect for others."
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People and Globalization
  • On still another hand: It is also worth noting that democratization of technology gives formerly “powerless” groups more power by allowing their voices to be heard and by allowing them to coordinate their actions in ways that were once very difficult.
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People and Globalization
  • Consider the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas: technology played in key role in allowing the voice of the people of Chiapas to be heard by a worldwide audience. Some argue, in turn, that this compelled the Mexican government to negotiate with rather than simply destroy the rebels through violence.

A Zapatista woman learns to use a video camera. The Mayans fought using technology instead of violence.

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People and Globalization
  • More broadly, the Arab world, to some extent, has been united by the development of Arab news services, such as Al Jazeera, which provide an alternative to a medium once completely dominated by the West.

An Al Jazeera political cartoon.

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People and Globalization
  • All of this can be seen in a generally positive light, but, again, it is important to emphasize that the process can lead to, as the authors nicely put it, “the narcissism of little differences,” whereby even formally trivial distinctions can morph into major problems.
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People and Globalization
  • The problem, to repeat, is this: “Cultural pressures combined with a sense that ‘strangers are invading our space and taking our stuff’ make contemporary interpersonal and international relationships more rather than less contentious, even among peoples who have lived side by side for centuries.
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People and Globalization
  • The potentially destructive aspects of globalization, in fact, should be of great concern to all of us. This potential is made all the more probable because of the underlying amorality of globalization.
  • What do the authors mean by this? Is globalization inherently amoral? (Discuss)
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People and Globalization
  • The amorality of globalization is premised on the fact that it is a largely unpoliced and unregulated (or de-regulated) process. As we are often told, globalization is all about efficiency and productivity. It’s all about letting technology and markets and firms and people decide how things should be done.
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People and Globalization
  • But when a process as profound and deeply significant as “globalization” is allowed to proceed in such a manner, it is only natural to expect that questions of justice, morality, ethics, and values will be marginalized, if not completely ignored.
  • And this is exactly what is happening, at least according the authors.
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People and Globalization
  • One example of this is “deracination,” a term that refers to the results of transplanting people from familiar surroundings to strange new environments.
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People and Globalization
  • Deracination detaches such persons from the familiar social structures that used to protect them, connect them to family and friends, supply their needs and desires, and constrain their behavior; it places them in new structures that endanger their lives and shape their choices and behaviors differently.
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People and Globalization
  • It is important to understand, too, that deracination itself is largely a product of globalizing forces: People uproot themselves, in large part, because they have little choice.
  • In the name of efficiency, local communities are destroyed because they are not well positioned in the global economy. If people don’t have jobs, cannot earn a living, they have to move to alien environments.
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People and Globalization
  • Needless to say, this can create a breeding ground for all sorts of discontent, aggression, and ultimately violence. One need only look at the recent riots in France to get a sense of this.
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People and Globalization
  • The authors argue that contemporary terrorism is also a reflection of this process: terrorist organizations use deracination to “gain access to bodies and minds they can deploy in their strategic conflicts.”
  • In addition, globalization aids terrorism because it makes possible the creation of relatively unstructured, geographically mobile networks of people willing to take action to achieve a common goal.
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People and Globalization
  • Some see this as a positive development, and, certainly, it can be: there are plenty of groups who use these unstructured global networks to achieve positive goals
  • But these networks are available to everyone and anyone: from social activists, to global corporations, to immigrant workers, to terrorist organizations, thieves, and drug lords.
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People and Globalization
  • The basic problem, therefore, is not with the networks per se, or the groups that use them to achieve violent or destructive ends. Instead, the problem is with the amorality of globalization.
  • This, of course, raises the question: Is there an alternative? Is there such a thing as “moral globalization”?
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People and Globalization
  • The authors don’t answer this question directly, but they give us a hint about their position. They argue that the basic problem with globalization as it is unfolding today is that it premised on the principles of “market fundamentalism,” which itself is an essentially amoral idea.
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People and Globalization
  • What is market fundamentalism? What do the authors mean by this term? (NOTE: We’re going to discuss this concept in the last part of our course, so discussion today will be limited)
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People and Globalization
  • Market fundamentalism is premised on a set of core beliefs, which are encapsulated in the “Washington Consensus.”
  • This is how one famous economist, Joseph Stigletz, describes the “Washington Consensus”: The Washington Consensus policies … were based on a simplistic model of the market economy, the competitive equilibrium model, in which Adam Smith’s invisible hand works … perfectly. Because in this model there is no need for government—that is, free, unfettered, ‘liberal’ markets work perfectly—the Washington Consensus policies are sometimes referred to as ‘neo-liberal,’ based ‘market fundamentalism,’ a resuscitation of the laissez-faire policies that were popular in the nineteenth century.
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People and Globalization
  • The basic tenets of market fundamentalism can be boiled down to two things:
  • Liberalization (the removal of government participation, regulation, and oversight from financial markets, capital markets, and trade relations)
  • Privatization (conversion of state-owned or managed activities to private ownership and management; premised on the belief that private enterprise is inherently superior to any state-controlled or managed activity)
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People and Globalization
  • Why is any of this amoral? (Discuss)
  • It’s amoral because neither tenet recognizes, much less pays serious heed to, basic questions of justice, human needs or human suffering, or rights. Indeed, market fundamentalists, in important ways, are positively hostile to rights: they believe, for example, they workers should not have a right to organize and/or engage in collective action, because doing so “interferes” with the market process.
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People and Globalization
  • Is there a counter-argument?
  • The counter-argument is that liberalization and privatization will create a more efficient, prosperous and productive society, which will, in turn, alleviate human suffering, fulfill human needs, and ensure justice, rights, and democracy for all.
  • This is not an entirely implausible argument. The critics, however, remained unconvinced.
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People and Globalization
  • Part of the reason they remain unconvinced, it should be noted, is not because they are anti-capitalist or anti-market; rather, it is because market fundamentalists assert that there is no middle ground: Either markets are free or they are not, and an “unfree” market is necessarily less efficient, less productive and, therefore, undesirable and “bad.”
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People and Globalization
  • If it was just a question of ideological disagreement, moreover, the issue would not be as important. Unfortunately, market fundamentalists hold powerful positions in the most powerful economies. They occupy the “commanding heights” of powerful structures, and their ideas have a profound impact on the world and on international and global politics.
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People and Globalization
  • This is the problem (to critics), because it gives the power to define and reshape the most important structures of global politics to a relatively small group of actors. It gives these actors, in other words, disproportionate control over the processes of globalization, and this is precisely why globalization engenders so much hostility, distrust, resistance and violence.
  • This is also a reason why globalization may ultimately lead to a very destructive future.
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People and Globalization
  • The authors, however, are not complete pessimists. They believe that every complex, multidimensional process has all sorts of contradictory tendencies and constantly creates new paths and new opportunities. The present era of globalization, for example, has empowered a fuller range of actors or agents then has probably ever existed in human history.
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People and Globalization
  • It has also created new structures, new regimes, and new institutions; and while these structures, regimes and institutions may be largely controlled by the same dominant actors as always, they can be changed.
  • This raises the question—one dealt with by the authors throughout their book—of how change is likely to come about. To the authors, the answer is the same: through a mobilized and vibrant civil society.