Sunday, July 3, 2011

Globalization

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Every day you hear it on the news, you read it in the papers, you overhear people talking about it… and in every single instance the word globalization seems to have a different meaning. So, what is globalization?


At a top political and economic level, globalization is the process of denationalization of markets, politics and legal systems, the rise of the so-called global economy. The consequences of this political and economic restructuring on local economies, human welfare and environment are the subject of an open debate among international organizations, governmental institutions, and the academic world.


At a business level, we talk of globalization when companies decide to take part in the emerging global economy and establish themselves in foreign markets. First they will adapt their products or services to the final users linguistic and cultural requirements. Then, they might take advantage of the Internet revolution and establish a virtual presence on the international marketplace with a multilingual corporate web site or even as an e-business.


The three most known Arab Nationalists are Nassar, Hafiz Assad, and one of the greatest enemies of the U.S. Saddam Hussein. Nassar was the ruler of Egypt. Egypt was secular and the army was very powerful. He used excessive military force to get what he wanted, and, just like the other two dictators; he destroyed any who opposed him. Nassar wanted Arab unity, but, unbeknownst to most, for all the wrong reasons. He wanted to destroy Israel by joining forces with the other Arab countries, but he wasn’t doing it for the greater good of Islam. He was trying to expand Egypt and rule most of the Arab countries. Hafiz Assad son is now the dictator of Syria. Although he has past away, he was as determined to get what he wants as he was many years ago when he became ruler of Syria. He was a member of the Baath party and he also wanted to expand Syria. In the 167 war, he lost the Golan Heights to Israel, which he has been trying to get back ever since. Although some say he is not as harsh as some of the other dictators in the world, he would kills anyone who dares to oppose him. Last but not least there is Saddam Hussein. He is one of America’s biggest threats and he is very anti-US and all our ways of living.


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Islamic Fundamentalists are the Muslims who want things to be like they were in the past. They follow Sharia Law to the letter, with no exceptions. They reject any of the West’s ways of living, our moral values, and they say that Americans are a bad influence on Islamic people. The US is called the “Great Satan”, and Islamic Fundamentalists have committed terrorist acts on us in the name of Islam. They want to look backward not forward, and refuse to use any “gadgets” that Americans use TV and Internet. They want Islam to remain pure and traditional, just as the Koran says it should be. Women must wear the Hijah and everyone must follow the 5 Pillars of Islam. Osama Bin Laden, another major enemy of the US, is an Islamic Fundamentalist, who has thus far escaped capture. In the world of terrorism he has surpassed Saddam Hussein and is now the world’s “public enemy #1.”


Many anthropologists have become interested in how dominant societies can shape the culture of less powerful societies, a process some researchers call cultural hegemony. Hegemony in this case means the success of the dominant classes in presenting their definition of reality, their view of the world, in such a way that it is accepted by other classes as common sense. The general consensus is that it is the only sensible way of seeing the world. Any groups who present an alternative view are therefore marginalized the supremacy of a social group manifests itself in two ways, as domination and as intellectual and moral leadership and the normal exercise of hegemony on the now classical terrain of the parliamentary regime is characterized by the combination of force and consent, which balance each other reciprocally, without force predominating excessively over consent.


However, there is not in any sense a single dominant class, but, rather, a shifting and unstable alliance of different social classes. The earlier notion of a dominant ideology is replaced by the idea of a field of dominant discourses, unstable and temporary. From this point of view, the media are seen as the place of competition between competing social forces rather than simply as a channel for the dominant ideology. (Gramsci)


There are on the one hand the dominant classes who seek to contain and incorporate all thought and behavior within the terms and limits they set in accordance with their interests. On the other hand there are the dominated or subordinate classes who attempt to maintain and to further the validity and effectiveness of their own definitions of reality. There is therefore a continuing struggle for dominance between the definitions of reality (or ideologies) which serve the interests of the ruling classes and those which are held by other groups in society. Culture, according to this view, is seen as the product of a much more vigorous struggle than is suggested in the view of ideology. Cultural domination arises from a complex play of negotiations, alignments and realignments within society. (Gramsci)


The fact of hegemony presupposes that account be taken of the interests and the tendencies of the groups over which hegemony is to be exercised, and that a certain compromise equilibrium should be formed.


Domination is not simply imposed from above, but has to be won through the subordinated groups spontaneous consent to the cultural domination which they believe will serve their interests because it is common sense.


Hegemony is a constant struggle against a multitude of resistances to ideological domination, and any balance of forces that it achieves is always precarious, always in need of re-achievement. Hegemonys victories are never final, and any society will evidence numerous points where subordinate groups have resisted the total domination that is hegemonys aim, and have withheld their consent to the system.


The dominant classes use mass culture in their response to this struggle by constructing these other groups into target markets and consumers who are addressed by the culture and advertising industries according to their demographic characteristics their social class, their disposable income, their age, sex and so on.


Jihad may be a last deep sigh before the eternal yawn of McWorld. On the other hand, Ortega was not exactly prescient; his prophecy of peace and internationalism came just before blitzkrieg, world war, and the Holocaust tore the old order to bits. Yet democracy is how we remonstrate with reality, the rebuke our aspirations offer to history. And if retribalization is inhospitable to democracy, there is nonetheless a form of democratic government that can accommodate parochialism and communitarianism, one that can even save them from their defects and make them more tolerant and participatory decentralized participatory democracy. And if McWorld is indifferent to democracy, there is nonetheless a form of democratic government that suits global markets passably well. (McWorld)


There is an alternative positive way of looking at the trend towards globalization. This relates it to cosmopolitan ideals that have always been suspicious of the ‘parochialism’ of the territorial state. The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars stimulated both nationalistic and cosmopolitan politics. In the mid-nineteenth century this argument was taken up by the ‘Manchester liberals’ who contrasted the ‘party of peace’ based upon commercial interests with the ‘party of war’ based upon territorial interests. Although clearly under-estimating the power of nationalism unleashed in the following century, nevertheless we can see that economic globalization can claim to be in this ‘perpetual peace’ tradition. More seriously, new cosmopolitan ideas abound in our globalizing world. As we would expect from a cosmopolitan perspective, it is not that the global scale is seen as the problem but rather its particular realization today. Put simply, contemporary globalization is critically unbalanced. The ideal balanced modern society consists of a successful economy to provide affluence, a firm government to provide security, and a vibrant civil society to provide identity. In this trilogy, government regulates the economy and is legitimated by society through democracy while the economy provides the goods for society to rise above basic needs. Clearly globalization is far from meeting these ideals world wide on all three counts. However it is most developed economically, although not providing affluence for the vast majority of humanity, there is some global governance, but the development of a global civil society is most elusive.


The very idea of a ‘global civil society’ is certainly limited at present, and there are good theoretical reasons for doubting its efficacy. Civil societies at the state level have operated best where there is one dominant national project. This is because democracy as a decision-making instrument works most efficiently when there is only one ‘demos’; where there is more than one ‘people’ democracy is usually excessively divisive. It is not clear how a global civil society could ever cope with the vast variety that is humanity. Assuming it is anti-territorial in nature, we can envisage a trans-state civil society organized in the space of flows through a world city network. But this immediately introduces hierarchy are these cities to become new centers of ‘command and control’ as some see their role in the contemporary world economy? This could promote the latent authoritarianism to be found in many democratically-deficient, transnational movements. Even if such cosmopolitanism injected more humane and environmentally-sensitive policies on to global agendas, it would still be another ‘globalization from above’. The key problem is that we do not seem to have the political equipment for developing and certainly the technology is enabling of such a non-territorial political project. An immensely complex undertaking, any such ‘globalization from below’ project would have to respect and promote cultural diversities. However, it is not clear how we could prevent such a fragmented ‘global civil society’ becoming a victim of a more unified economic and political order. The ideal of harnessing globalization’s potential for a better world by respecting diversity while promoting cosmopolitan ideals of equity and freedom certainly seems a long way away. But we know the starting point understand globalization today, to make a better tomorrow, for all humanity.


There is a double irony in cultural globalization’s one world vision. It is a vision shared both by past cosmopolitan internationalists, as expressed in the name ‘United Nations’, and by contemporary environmentalists in their concept of the Earth as the home of humanity. Superseding the ordered political world of the UN is one thing, but consumerism sharing its image with environmentalism is quite another matter. It is the very consumption promoted by one world advertising that is threatening the home of humanity. Here we enter the heart of the contemporary politics of globalization.


“What is the Western World?” many might ask. What characterizes it as “Western”? Must a country lie on the Western Hemisphere to be considered western? These are popular questions that confuse many people. First, let us take a look at the meaning of the Western World. The Western World is nothing more than a geographic term used to describe Western European countries, in the 16th century, and more recently, includes the Americas.


Certain countries are characterized as “Western” in nature because their people have many rights that less fortunate countries do not have. These rights include civil rights and democratic elections. Certain countries that share these rights include Iceland, Austria, and Japan. Although they do not lie on the Western Hemisphere, they are still considered “western” in nature. They also had a far more advanced development in certain areas such as government, literature, science, and art. The Western World is overall richer in society than others.


We often hear of people calling those countries that are less fortunate, third world countries. What does that mean? Since World War II, we use the term, the first world, to describe the Western World, or the free world. The Communist World, or Eastern Europe, is what we call the second world. We characterize those countries who are more impoverished, such as Afghanistan, the third world countries.


Europe is the primary introducer of our civilization. It is what we call the Historical Core of the Western World and the creator of these great dimensions today. The birthplaces of Western Civilization were in the earlier settlements of the Mediterranean, Near East, and Africa. Later on the Greeks and Romans separated from these settlements to create their own civilization.


Building a civilization, however, is not that simple. There are many necessary developments, such as political, economic, social, cultural, and religious ones. Gods are a key source for success in the community, as well as a strong political and military structure. Based on these, a new social structure made up of upper class people, priests, kings, political leaders, and warriors are needed. The development of writing and forms of artistic and intellectual activity were also very important.


This is what must occur in a society for it to be considered a civilization. We now know what characterizes the Western Hemisphere. We now understand the differences between our civilization and those of third world countries. And finally, we can now begin to understand the development of our culture and our great fortune to be part of such a productive world.


There are many things to recommend globalization, respect for pluralism and the promotion of liberal democratic principles, for example, yet aspects of the process of globalization as evidenced by some of the examples raised in this paper are problematic, particularly for less dominant economies and cultures. So while we celebrate globalization there is need for mitigating our Euphoria. Those who argue that national cultures are too strong to be homogenized and that language, religion and history act as formidable barriers are ignoring some historical facts. Languages can become extinct as a result of competition from more dominant languages. Local religions and traditions have lost out in the face of onslaught by other more aggressive world religions. There are lessons to be drawn from early, more aggressive attempts at globalization, such as colonization and the spread of Christianity. In Africa, for example, misguided Christian missionaries devalued the rich cultural forms of their native converts and dismissed their music, dance, art, and belief systems as pagan and worthless and colonization endorsed these actions. Even though today there is considerable pride in some of the discredited forms of cultural expression there are many mentally colonized Africans who still consider African cultural forms as inferior. Globalization risks devaluing local cultures by promoting that which is dominant, most often western, at the expense of that which is less dominant, most often non-western. And though global cultural flow may not signal the demise of national cultures yet, there is the risk that the poorest and the weakest nations may be further weakened in the huge global marketplace. When that happens their cultures are bound to suffer crises of identity for as espoused by the Ghanaian cultural policy document, it is a peoples culture, which gives order and meaning to their social, political, economic, aesthetic and religious norms and modes of organization and which distinguishes them as a people. (Globalization)


McWorld. 1. http//www.theatlantic.com/politics/foreign/barberf.htm


Gramsci. Cultural Effects. http//www.cultsock.ndirect.co.uk/MUHome/cshtml/index.html


Globalization. www.Globalization.com


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