Globalization is an extremely ambiguous term that has been redefined and re-constructed. The champions of globalization define it as the phenomena of increasing integration and interaction among economies and societies of different countries; this’s evident by international trade and foreign investment represented by institutions such as the IMF, World Trade, World bank etc. They state that such phenomena are the inevitable product of the rise of technologies; as such, any criticism of globalization is seen as backwards. However, is that really the case? are we actually globalized, and was it technologically driven? As always, skepticism is always healthy, especially against preconceived conceptions.
Firstly, to claim that globalization was technologically driven is really hard to defend. The economist historian Dr Ha-Joon Chang noted that the 1870-1914 liberal era of steamship and telegraph economies were significantly more liberal and globalized than the mid-20th century (1945-1973). Whereby in the mid-20th century, there was significant protectionist policies and restriction on capital movement, yet at that time, it was labelled as the golden era of globalization (due to high growth rates); they then slowly globalized and increased trade as their industries became established. As such, he concludes that its political institution's economic policies that determine the degree of globalization rather than it being an inevitable product of technology. In addition, it further shows for a country to develop, it must protect its market from global competition.
Furthermore, what I mean by globalization being redefined and reconstructed is that everyone defines it to what best suits their interest. It could easily be argued that, in a sense, globalization predates what we call globalization. This is if you define it as the integration and cooperation of economies, examples as Professor Noam Chomsky stated the silk road which was an extensive form of globalization. However, if you count the interwind complex structure of supply chain, outsourcing, and capital movement (in order to find the cheapest configuration), investors right and joining the “free trade” as actually globalized, then we are globalized. Yet it’s really hard to make a claim and state that we are past imperialism, globalized, and in the age of competition when as stated by the economist Dr. Sean Starr, USA corporation dominates in almost every sector, with a 48% ownership.
Another side of globalization is its view that industrialization is the only way forward for true progress. This conception dominates the nature of trade agreements, FDI’s and loans, in summary, the policies of globalized institutes. An example to demonstrate this, is India’s agriculture free trade agreement. Over the past 20 years it has resulted in 300,000 farmers committing suicide. This’s because of reduced subsidies, the inability to afford modified seeds and being vulnerable to the uncertainties and volatility of the market. Furthermore, MNCs’ expansion (e.g. Monsanto) into the Indian agriculture market and industrialization through USAID replaced rice fields with Monsanto’s GM Maize using false slogans such as “save the water”. However, as known, such artificial seeds require excessive fertilization and pesticides leading to poor soil moist retention, killing bees, contaminating water and much more. It’s impossible to adequately highlight the injustices and depth of the Indian agriculture issue; however, it is clear that industrialization has done more humanitarian harm than good.
As seen, when inspected, the concept of globalization seems to transform from a virtue of modern societies to a mere extension and tools used by power systems to achieve their interests. The contradictions of globalization should be obvious from the modern invention of borders which didn’t exist in the past. I conclude that for us to really call ourselves globalized, then power and wealth concentration should be equally distributed over the six continents -excluding Antarctica- rather than the two.