Published On: Sun, Mar 30th, 2014

The Dark Side of Globalization

Leonid Savin (nsnbc): The only way to mitigate the process of globalization is the leveling of the disparity of global power,  and the establishment of a new international order, based on genuine multi-polarity, with multiple civilization’s centers, capable of projecting power regionally.

transnationalDespite the fact that research on globalization has been ongoing for decades, the international scientific community has not yet agreed on a clear definition of the phenomenon. Further, it is not possible to think about globalization in only one particular field of science or discipline in isolation, because of its  interconnected and complex nature.

Axel Dreher has proposed three ways of looking at globalization: 

Economic globalization: characterized by the long-distance flow of goods, capital, and services, as well as the information and perceptions  that accompany these market exchanges.

Political globalization: characterized by a diffusion of government policies.

Social globalization: expressed as the spread of ideas, information, images, and people[1].

UNESCO’s 2001 Annual Report states that, “globalization can be defined as a set of economic, social, technological, political and cultural structures and processes arising from the changing character of the production, consumption and trade of goods and assets that comprise the base of the international political economy”[2].

Promoters of globalization share many common perceptions.

Zygmunt Bauman, for example, attempts to determine the mechanisms of interaction between states and nations, proposing a transformation from existing “inter-national” organizations to what he sees as truly universal and global institutions. He no longer has any interest in the social institution of the ‘state’, but, instead, envisions a ‘social planet’[3].  Many other scholars and politicians, who similarly promote globalization in its current form, are full of joy and optimism about the future.  However, some critique is required for an objective assessment of the phenomenon.

Jacques Derrida said many years ago that the ideal or euphoric image of globalization as a process of opening the borders that makes the world more homogeneous must be challenged with absolute seriousness and vigilance. Not only because this homogenization, where it was made in reality or assumption has both positive and negative sides, but also because any apparent homogenization often hides the old or new forms of social inequality or hegemony. Josef Stiglitz, who has been intimately involved in the globalization process from within,  has also produced numerous works critiquing globalization since leaving the World Bank.

As a whole, the process of globalization is very abstract, and so requires an assessment from within and between various discrete fields of the social sciences.  David Harvey notes that “if the word ‘globalization’ signifies anything about our recent historical geography, it is most likely to be a new phase of exactly the same underlying process of the capitalist production of space”[4]. Anthony G. McGrew , a professor of International Relations at Southampton University, describes globalization as “a process which generates flows and connections, not simply across nation-states and national territorial boundaries, but between global regions, continents and civilizations. This invites a definition of globalization as: ‘an historical process which engenders a significant shift in the spatial reach of networks and systems of social relations to transcontinental or interregional patterns of human organization, activity and the exercise of power”[5].

It’s very important to note that in many definitions of globalization we can see the primacy of economics, particularly of neoliberal capitalism, as well as the distribution of power that thus flows and its influence worldwide. Faster, more flexible and more robust nodes of such economic power have an advantage in spreading their own flows of the production and exchange of ideas and knowledge, in effect, a normative and reality-defining process. They make globalization in their own image.

It is also necessary to understand the hybrid nature of globalization, comprising a global market economy, technological development, and societal transformation and global homogenization.

David Steingard and Dale Fitzgibbons, in a scholarly critique of global capitalism as driving the process of globalization, defined globalization “as an ideological construct devised to satisfy capitalism’s need for new markets and labour sources and propelled by the uncritical ‘sycophancy’ of the international academic business community”[6]. However, globalization has also been conceived as a discursive practice. In this sense, it is not the result of ‘real’ forces of markets and technology, but rather is a retorical, and discursive construct, formed by practices and ideologies which some groups are imposing on others for political and economic gain[7]. Globally prestigous educational institutions, such as Harvard , the LSE, and Colombia University are incubators for a transnational political and economic elite institutionalized with a neoliberal ideological agenda. Thus, they provide neo-liberalism as the driving, and defining force of globalization with ‘intellectual legitimacy’ and an academic facade.

New possibilities to communicate faster and network with more people are not only good for personal and professional interrelations, but sharing and collaboration on scientific experiments, academics, lessons learned, and best practices.  In this sense,  “globalization must be understood as the condition whereby localizing strategies become systematically connected to global concernsThus, globalization appears as a dialectical (and therefore contradictory) process: what is being globalized is the tendency to stress ‘locality’ and ‘difference’, yet ‘locality’ and ‘difference’ presuppose the very development of worldwide dynamics of institutional communication and legitimation[8].

In parallel of globalization it can be noted that, “broad economic, technological, and scientific trends that directly affect higher education and are largely inevitable in the contemporary world. These phenomena include information technology in its various manifestations, the use of a common language for scientific communication, and the imperatives of society’s mass demand for higher education…”[9].

In other words, new scientific language promoted by winners of globalization level the cultural differences and undermine traditional and regional aspects which include, but are not limited to religious, historical, cultural and philosophical features of the world’s peoples. It can also be said that globalization through the exchange of ideas also threatens the institution of the sovereign state. How? Both the independent exchange of ideas and the formal institution of public education is key not just for human development, but for the institutionalization, norm creation, and legitimacy formation of the state. People, as ‘human capital, are developed and utilized by the modern state as any other natural resource at its disposal.[10]. If a government is not involved in the process of public and special education, there are external powers that will act to fill this void. As a result, the human capital potential and stability of any given state will be decreased.

We can also attempt to see this aspect of hegemony from other cultures’ point of view. The process of globalization suggests simultaneously two images of culture. “The first image entails the extension outwards of a particular culture to its limit, the globe. Heterogeneous cultures become incorporated and integrated into a dominant culture which eventually covers the whole world. The second image points to the compression of cultures. Things formerly held apart are now brought into contact and juxtaposition”[11].

I do not think it controversial to characterize the current, globally dominant culture as a mass-pseudo-ersatz culture produced in the U.S. and promoted by worldwide consumerism as the fruit of liberal ideology.

Liberalism itself is a synthetic creation of the Western-dominated global power structure, a humanitarian facade, behind which the dirty work of policing the world can go on uninterrupted by idealistic spasms in the body politic[12]. So in a radical sense “globalization is what we in the Third World have for several centuries called colonization”[13].

Finally, we come to the question of values. Globalization is occuring in a paradigm of post-modern values[14]. In this way it rejects traditional values and traditional education systems, because the logic of postmodernism is the absence of a center, absolute principle. It a priori is prejudiced against all other cultures and ideas, and, as well, for the carriers of these ideas. It seeks to reduce to all other cultures to a hollow and harmless caricature and cliché that can be easily digested and regurgitated within the context of global consumer culture. It is impossible for the dominant global neoliberal culture to co-exist and harmonize with traditional cultures and create an artificial single type of global citizenship without essential damage to these peoples and societies. Thus, globalization becomes a process of cultural destruction and forced homogenization.

The only way to mitigate the process of globalization is the leveling of the disparity of global power  and the establishment of a new international order based on genuine multi-polarity, where will be several civilizations centers capable of projecting power regionally. This will preserve civilization-based cultural and educational-scientific paradigms, connected with the peoples’ will, values, and heritage, yet at the same time remain open to international cooperation and discourse, but built on a platform of trust, mutual aid, respect for cultural difference, and of the right for each societies own historical and developmental path looking to the future.

In Russia we can see the beginning of some attempts to theorize and build  the precursors of a new system of  education as an answer to the dark miracles of postmodernism. Professor Alexander Dugin from Moscow State University has proposed the idea of a Eurasian educational framework that reflects the contemporary global situation and interdependence of countries and nations, as well as recognizing the necessity to keep our traditions alive and to protect our peoples’ from the creative destruction promoted by Western liberalism.

Joint efforts with scholars, experts, analysts and activists from the Third and Second World as well as academic critics from the core of industrial developed countries known as founders of contemporary neo-liberalism and capitalism itself, will be very useful during the first steps in drawing a new scientific paradigm and basis for non-western international relations that will promote to establish the Newest and more adequate World System than actual one.

 Notes:


[1] Dreher A. Does Globalization Affect Growth? Empirical Evidence from a New Index. Applied Economics 38 (10), 2006. P. 1091-1110.

[2] United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), MOST Annual Report 2001, see http://www.unesco.org/most/most_ar_part1c.pdf.

[3] Zygmunt Bauman. From Agora to Marketplace, and where to from Here? //Journal of Globalization Studies Vol. 2, Num. 1, May. 2011, p.13-14.

[4] David Harvey, Spaces of Hope (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002), p. 54

[5] Anthony G. McGrew, “Global Legal Interaction and Present-Day Patterns of Globalization”, in V. Gessner and A. C. Budak (eds.), Emerging Legal Certainty: Empirical Studies on the Globalization of Law (Ashgate: Dartmouth Publishing Company, 1998), p. 327

[6] David Steingard and Dale Fitzgibbons, “Challenging the Juggernaut of Globalization: A Manifesto for Academic Praxis”, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 8, No. 4, 1995, pp. 30-54

[7] C. Walck and D. Bilimoria, “Editorial: Challenging ‘Globalization’ Discourses”, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 8, No. 4, 1995, pp. 3-5.

[8] Cesare Poppi, “Wider Horizons with Larger Details: Subjectivity, Ethnicity and Globalization”, in Alan Scott (ed.), The Limits of Globalization: Cases and Arguments (London: Routledge, 1997), p. 285.

[9] Philip G. Altbach, “Globalization and the University: Realities in an Unequal World”, Occasional Papers on Globalization, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2005, Globalization Research Center, University of South Florida, see http://www.cas.usf.edu/globalresearch/PDFs/Altbach.pdf.

[10] Volker H. Schmidt. Modernity, East Asia’s modernization and the New World Order P. 115. https://ap3.fas.nus.edu.sg/

[11] Mike Featherstone, Undoing Culture, Globalization, Postmodernism and Identity (London: Sage, 1995), pp. 6-7

[12] Eric Norden, “The Tender Tyranny of American Liberalism,” The Realist, June 1966, 1-6, http://www.ep.tc/realist/a-b-set/09.html

[13] J. A. Scholte, “The Globalization of World Politics”, in J. Baylis and S. Smith (eds.), The Globalization of World Politics, An Introduction to International Relations (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 15.

[14] Endre Kiss. The dialectics of Modernity. A theoretical Interpretation of globalization//Journal of Globalization Studies Vol. 1, Num. 2, Nov. 2010, p. 16

About the Author

- Leonid Savin is the Chief Editor of “Geopolitics” at the Department of Sociology and International Relations, Faculty of Sociology, Moscow State University, Russia. Leonid Savin is the Chief of Staff at the International Social Movement “Eurasia Movement”, which maintains a website at www.evrazia.info. Leonid Savin’s work is, among other, focused on different strategies and phenomena of conflict, including unconventional conflict, informational conflict, and net-centric warfare. Leonid Savin is a frequent contributor in a number of internationally renown contributions, including Eurasian Affairs, Strategic Culture Foundation – Fondsk. He began contributing to nsnbc international in February 2014.

Displaying 11 Comments
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  1. Aude Sapere says:

    Just like the Roman empire, globalization will “level the cultural differences and undermine traditional and regional aspects which include, but are not limited to religious, historical, cultural and philosophical features of the world’s peoples”. When the globalized world has used up all its resources and thoroughly polluted the world by shipping everything all over the globe, the collapse will come. After the Roman empire collapsed, the Dark Ages lasted a thousand years. Who knows how many millenia it will take for the earth to recover from the collapse of globalism, if it ever does.

    • Not thousands of years – and Savin is right, there were high cultures other places when Rome and Europe descended.. Ethnocentric world view to think the world is dark just because it’s nighttime in Paris. ;)

      • jo says:

        So where would these other cultures be located in the case of a global empire? Are we talking about extraterrestrial societies?

  2. Leonid Savin says:

    so called Dark Ages is West(Europe)-centred point of view. Byzantium (East Romanian) Empire lived more than first Romanian Empire and it was rise of science, culture, etc. But not for Western Europe… Also keep in mind about another Empires in Far East, Africa and Latin America during these times of “dark ages”.

  3. What an extraordinarily intellectual piece for a news service. I can’t remember when I was more perturbed by somehing I read. Surely globalization is not advanced as a primary process. The fact of trade in products, information and culture is new only in its rapidity. It is the extent of financialization’s being given a global reach which is relatively new. Present legal structures permit extraordinary powers to a tiny class of financial institutions. Though IMF and other institutions they decide literally whether people shall have enough to eat. Nor is financialization unarmed, for if nations don’t join the system in which it becomes subject to the bankers it’ll be covertly attacked by one of the militaries commanded by the West. Whether US-trained jihadist, Gladio, fascist militia or propagandized youth the outcome is chaos. Globalization seems to be the beating down of the State structures which protect individuals from the atavistic powerlust of Western elites. The governments which are resisting the globalization of the financial power fail to fully differentiate themselves from it. Indeed they court its investment. A more robust differentiation would remove the sanction of the victim so necessary to its legit……(some part deleted due to oversized “comment” edt. ) ….. —– We have been blocked from the economic insights of the 18th & 19th centuries by TINA (There Is No Alternative), but Mr. Hudson unmasks all of this. I’ve no time to finish this properly. Do take a look at Michael Hudson. Thank you so much NSNBC for Leonid Savin’s article!

  4. Sabine says:

    @ Leonid
    Thanks for your very astute article. You share many of your insights with the English philosopher John Gray. You might know him.

    And on “Dark Ages”: this is a Western European (Anglo-Saxon) expression. In German, for instance (my native language), this period is called “Voelkerwanderung” (movement of people, which leaves the “dark” out all together and expresses very well what was happening then.

  5. Leonid Savin says:

    Dear Sabine,
    Yes, John Gray is very interesting thinker. Also I recommend to read books of John Hobson (not John Atkinson Hobson, but contemporary person) on eurocentrism and such kind visions. I’ve uploaded few his book from internet.

  6. SLAVA says:

    very astute article

  7. I agree with mister Savin’s general idea. I understood his article as emphasising globalisation as the centuries old story of “civilisation” versus “barbarians”, noted in the West by Edward Said’s concept of “orientalism”. This idea though, was “discovered” decades before Said by a russian thinker Nikolay Trubeckoy, who saw cosmopolitism in all its forms only as an incarnation of germano-romantic chauvinism, in the sense that the West is projecting their value system as the universal system of values. This notion in turn practically ignores other traditions and value systems in a form of a cultural genocide. All in all, great article by Savin!

  8. Steven Jones says:

    Clear, concise, to the point, good argumentation, good documentation, by an expert who is taking the bull by the horns, published in exactly the right newspaper. Could hardly be any better.

  9. Ian R Thorpe says:

    The most ironic thing about neo Liberalism is there’s neither anything new nor liberal about it. Authortitarian government his harnessed to the service of economic and political libertines. Sounds to me like something Caligula would have been comfortable with.

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