Implications Of Globalization
Views on the positive or negative impact of globalization are also highly polarized. Proponents credit globalization with promoting global prosperity, peace, stability, and democracy. Critics, however, attribute to globalization a long list of societal ills, including rising inequality and poverty, environmental mismanagement, and the narrowing of the scope of democracy. Some even view it as a veil for imperialist domination of the developing world. The global cultural interconnectedness that has expanded with the rise of economic interconnectedness is also often viewed as Western cultural imperialism. Some, however, reject this view. Anthony Giddens, for example, claims that global economic and cultural influences are mutual since, as the West is increasingly influenced by the rest of the world, "reverse colonialism" has become more common. Others contend that, along with economic boundaries, cultural boundaries are coming down and culture without space is emerging. Claims of cultural hybridization or cultural deterritorialization, however, grossly understate the disparity in the levels of influence reflected in the imbalance of the control of capital, technology, and media outlets between the advanced West and the developing world.
Proponents of globalization assert that there is a strong positive relationship between the "openness" attained by reducing the allocating and regulatory roles of states and success in industrial development and socioeconomic transformation in those states. Others show that the claim is at best contentious. There is also strong historical evidence that countries that have successfully industrialized did so behind protectionist policies and strong state involvement in their economies. The Dutch Golden Age of the seventeenth century, for example, was perpetuated by strong state involvement in the importation of raw materials and exportation of manufactured goods. During the eighteenth century, Britain stimulated industrialization, especially in the area of textiles, not only by imposing tariffs on imports from India and China but also by outlawing the wearing of some imported items. In the nineteenth century, countries like France, Germany, and the United States, in an effort to develop national industries, counteracted British hegemony through nationalist economic strategies that included protective tariffs and credit facilities from state banks. In the twentieth century Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan promoted industrialization through a number of state-instituted policy measures, including land reform, targeting of investments and credits to selected industries, and the protection of young industries, and by providing extensive support for marketing and research facilities.
With regard to the relationship between globalization and democracy, opponents argue that globalization reduces democracy to mere electoral contestations with little of substance determined by popular vote. They note that the more limited the role of the state, the more the sphere of public decisions narrows, resulting in hollow democracy. For proponents such as Hayek (1978), Samuel Brittan (1977), and Hutt (1979), only market democracy constitutes genuine democracy, and state involvement in economic activity—as in the welfare state system—represents the transfer of control from the people and market democracy to politicians and coercive interest groups.
Despite the polarization of views, globalization appears to present gains and opportunities to some and losses and challenges to others both within and among countries. Generally, the more advanced economies, which have the ability to compete in open markets, face opportunities, while those less able to compete, such as sub-Saharan African countries, face challenges. Globalization's economic vision, including deregulation of labor and the retrenchment of the welfare state, has also increased inequality and relative (if not absolute) poverty. Various aspects of workers' rights have been rolled back in order to bolster the bottom line of corporations. The plight of the masses in low-income countries, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, where governments have been unable or unwilling to provide their populations with even the most basic protection from the brunt of the structural adjustment programs, has been particularly severe.
The impact of globalization on democracy also has been both positive and negative. Globalization has contributed to the spread of democracy but it has also limited the scope of democracy by narrowing the sphere of public decisions. The argument that market democracy is more genuine (and less exclusive) is not convincing. Market democracy, in which voting rests on a base of purchasing power, is inherently oligarchic in an economic system that is characterized by inequality—as capitalism is.
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