Essay topic 3: Globalization

August 26, 2004

Currently, across the globe, there is a system emerging that intends to interconnect the entire world’s citizens, integrate all cultures, economies, and political policies, and create a sort of world culture. This system is commonly defined as globalization: the movement of capital throughout the world. However, globalization does not simply pertain to “the movement of capital”; it has a plethora of underlying effects on different cultures and people throughout the world.

These effects take different shape and form, varying widely from one region of the world to another. Globalization has brought drastic rises in living standards in places that before had some of the meekest standards in the world; it has also enslaved millions of people and created a widening gap between the rich and poor. It has brought progress to the world through communication, travel, cultural influence, and knowledge. As David Held and Anthony McGrew explain in their book Globalization/Anti Globalization (2002), globalists contend that globalization will change the “context of, and conditions for, social interaction and organization” (7) leading to declining global inequality and poverty and improving levels of human welfare. Companies, social movements, non-government organizations, and governments of all sorts can work together, interconnected, to bring about progressive changes to “shift the nature and form of political life” (17). Globalists look to these “global politics” as a problem solving tool: a way to end hunger, pain, and suffering on a global scale.

Ideally, globalization, the flow of social change, would work to weed out major problems facing humanity today. We would see better food distribution, AIDS vaccines, and economic prosperity throughout the entire world. But this hasn’t happened. According to over 780 million people suffer from chronic hunger even though there is enough food to “provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day” (2000). And according to the World Bank, HIV/AIDS still infects 42 million people, and nearly half of the world’s 6 billion people live on less than 2 dollars a day (, 2004). How can this be? With the beauty of this new global world, how can so many people be left out of the glory that is globalization? Why haven’t multinational organizations, the organizations that bring with them technology, wealth, and social change, brought these things to half of the world’s population?

Anti globalists like Arundhati Roy, and Amartya Sen would argue that the “social interaction and organization” promised by globalization is precisely what has not happened. The problem lies in the hands of world leaders and neo-colonialists (with a fine line drawn between the differences between the two). Roy, in her book Power Politics, challenges her native government in India for being out of touch with the people it is supposed to protect. Organizations like the WTO and IMF, along with India’s leaders are leading much of India into the wrong direction of development. Farmers are still poor even when they have a surplus of grain. Millions of others are cut off from their homes, jobs, and livelihoods because of the construction of mega-dams that intend to boost the economy and structure of the country but at the same time displace and harm the very people it is supposed to help. Developers such as the IMF and WTO, Roy feels, look only to benefit the neo-colonialists of America and Western Europe. Globalization, she argues, is bringing a world of hurt and not a world of modernity to India’s billion people.

Sen agrees; the problem is in how modernity, development, and wealth generated by industry is distributed and carried out. There is potential for good in the trend of globalization, but sympathy and understanding are needed to jumpstart industry in and development in nations with a history of abuse and exploitation. Sen understands that globalization is not synonymous with these terms, that in it there is the potential for healing, but we must work as a global community to make the globalization trend a fair reality.

Robert Wade, in his analysis of global poverty measures (2004), agrees that global inequality has increased across the globe. But he points out that by some measurements it is apparent that globalization has improved global equality based on local purchasing power. But still, “globalization has been rising while