Monday, March 17, 2008

Tapping Philosophy: Globalization

I apologize for posting the topic after the summary.

And now for the topic: Globalization

First some quotes

"Simply put, globalization denotes the expanding scale, growing magnitude, speeding up, and deepening impact of interregional flows and patterns of social interaction. It refers to a shift or transformation in the scale of human social organization that links distant communities and expands the reach of power relations across the world's major regions and continents. However, as the rise of anti-globalization protests demonstrates, it should not be read as prefiguring the emergence of a harmonious world society or as a universal process of global integration in which there is a growing convergence of cultures and civilizations. Not only does the awareness of growing interconnectedness create new animosities and conflicts, it can fuel reactionary politics and deep-seated xenophobia. Since a significant segment of the world's population is either untouched directly by globalization or remains largely excluded form its benefits, it is arguably a deeply divisive, and consequently, vigorously contested process."-Held and Mcgrew, an Introduction to the Globalization Debate

"The new dogmas took root in the 1980s amidst the decaying rot of developmentalist dreams. They flourished in the 1990's bathed by the sparkle of the "new economy" in which the United States and Eastern Asia were suppesed to be leading the world to its economic glory. But, alas, the sheen began to tarnish. The currency crisis in East and Southeast Asia in 1997, (which spread from Russia to Brazil), the slide Downward of the World Trade Organization from Seattle to Cancun, the Fading of Davos and the Spectacular Rise of Porto Alegre, Al-Qaeda and September 11, Followed by the Bush fiasco in Iraq and the current accounts crisis of the United States—all this and more leads one to suspect that the globalization as rhetoric may be quickly going the way of developmentalism. And hence our question—After Developmentalism and Globalization, What?"-Immanuel Wallerstein, After Developmentalism and Globalization, What?

These two quotes will help us frame the discussion for Wednesday in an efficient way. What does globalization mean? Is globalization solely a descriptive term, or is it also a world-view that has normative and ideological implications? If the latter is true, would it be possible to separate the descriptive elements from globalization from its normative components, to arrive at some true propositions, or facts about the world, that globalization as a framework of thinking, offers? In globalization, what are the new agents of power, and what agents of power are being compromised? Who wins with globalization and who loses? What is the relationship of globalization to other contemporaneous phenomena such as postmodernism, or consumerism?

A few of my questions have already assumed that globalization is something that exists and is happening, but the Wallerstein quote above calls this assumption into question. Wallerstein fits into the category which Held McGrew use of a skeptic of globalization, specifically of the Marxist variety. Acknowledging that there was at least talk of something called globalization, Wallerstein cites several recent events that may end the use of this term. However, Wallerstein does not claim the ability to predict the future, despite his Marxist leanings, and claims merely that the structures implicit within globalization are failing, and that a new structure will take its place. Is Wallerstein's analysis of the failure of globalization on its own terms accurate, or will the structures implicit within globalization continue to adapt and proliferate in ways that Wallerstein has not anticipated? What are the consequences of globalization continuing?

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