Globalization is multi faceted, multidimensional and its consequences seep into every conceivable facet of daily lives as well as scholarly analysis. It can be conceived to be an empirical fact. It may be an ideology or a theory. In reality, it blends all these conceptions together even though scholarly analysis may differ on the degree of emphasis. As a simple empirical fact, or rather a set of facts that conclusively points towards a phenomenon, the world is increasingly becoming economically integrated.
More than ever before, national markets are opening both to regional and international trade. Financial markets are moving towards a global integration. The processes of production and distribution are being dispersed to different countries by transnational corporations while the labor markets are becoming more and more fluid. All these developments proceed with an almost complete disregard for the geographical national barriers.
Thus, through globalization, peoples and places are moving towards an extensive and dense connection. The result is an increase in the movement of goods, services, information, ideas and people. Such data are self explanatory and to some extent they depict globalization as a late stage development in the evolution of the capitalistic economic system. On the basis of ideology, a moral dimension is added to the varying globalization theories. With this regard, globalization ideology is a component of economic neoliberalism.
In this semi-official philosophy of the 21st century, the United States, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Trilateral Commission, various University Departments as well as myriad financial and political organizations of the world all subscribe to this dominant philosophy. This philosophy prescribes a certain form of global capitalism in which less developed countries will carry out minimum adjustments to increase the general standard of living of their citizenry as economic integration continues and people, institutions, and countries engage more and more in cooperation.
In line with such a trend of integration and cooperation, the world will be a peaceful place (Lewellen 2002). On the other hand, there are those who conceive globalization to be a form of disaster in which inequality will be exacerbated, poor people and countries will be marginalized, and wealth and power will remain concentrated in hands of a few elites. In addition to these perspectives, three other perspectives have been adopted by anthropologists to try and present the nature of globalization. The three perspectives are: the skeptical, evolutionary and hyper-globalist.
Among the skeptics, globalization is nonexistent, and if it exists, then it has been largely oversold. Under this understanding, NATO, ASEAN, and European Community represent regionalization rather than globalization. In addition, the emergence of community based NGOs and the strengthening of ethnic groups, coupled to the increase in religious fundamentalism, ethnic politics and local organizations fail to agree with the oft repeated understanding that globalization is causing cultural homogenization (Lewellen 2002).
On an evolutionary basis, globalization is explained as a change in degree, not a change in kind. This is so because all the processes that are used to explain globalization have been in gradual development over centuries and are not dramatic in nature. Transnational corporations, westernization and the internationalization of finance and capitalism; which are some of the key features of globalization, are not dramatic developments since their roots can be traced to the distant past.
However, the hyper-globalization thesis posits that the political, social and economic developments witnessed today are entirely new and different from the past. Hyper-globalists view the preindustrial period, the industrial period and the post industrial period as being fragmented radical changes that have altered human life radically (Lewellen 2002). Despite all these positions, it is important to surmise that globalization is a reality, just as localization and regionalization. The United States of America as the chief architect behind neoliberal capitalism has achieved unprecedented and unparalleled global dominance.
Since the present nature of globalization is closely tied to the concept of expansionist capitalism has succeeded in increasing the interrelationships between localization, regionalization and globalization to an extent where not even the remotest part of the world is spared from capitalistic influence. The benefits of being a global dominant power are many just as the disadvantages. Globalization has succeeded in changing the concepts of nationhood, nationality and national identity. By threatening the very existence of the state and sovereignty, globalization dismantles barriers which punitively control societies.
Thus, as globalization continues, states are forced to adjust their understanding of sovereignty (Sullivan 2002). In open world and a free access to the goods and services that the market can provide, even the world’s poorest are granted the opportunity to access these services and goods and improve on their quality of life. Ethnic, national and regional hostilities that were initially driven by the need to protect their geographical localities and resources have been broken down as the world becomes more integrated.
There are places in the world where improved health and increasing lifespan have been attributed to free flow of information and knowledge due to globalization. Globalization knowledge is also behind several reforms in different countries and well as the canceling of debts from poor countries (Lechner & Boli 2004). Since such measures directly involve the United States through its considerable control of the World Bank and the IMF, such moves improve on the public perception of the US in foreign countries. However, the erosion of sovereignty is not all rosy.
Since global capitalism corrodes the nation state, it also obstructs national political economy over social and economic policies. Globalization undermines the capacity of independent sovereign states to pursue or maintain welfare states on the basis of a fair redistribution of national resources to those individuals who are unable to afford the market driven opportunities for a decent life. Because market driven capitalist accumulation of property reigns supreme, it undermines national imperatives for the redistribution of resources to the disadvantaged according to their social need (Holton 1998).
This means that the poor who cannot access social security benefits such as quality health care and housing are left to suffer. Globalization is responsible for the growth in anti-Americanism abroad. In France, the United States is perceived as a geopolitical bully and a cultural pariah. The United States is constantly accused of deliberate manipulation of globalization through the firm control it wields on IMF and World Bank, NATO, and also the flooding of world markets with American made fast foods, movies, novels as well as the different changes brought about by corporate foreign investments.
These anxieties are not only expressed by the French but also by the Chinese, Japanese, Russia and most developing countries. In the Muslim world, religious fundamentalism is solely directed towards America’s capitalist expansionist policies. Some fundamentalists are currently fighting to prevent the influx of American movies and music into their cultures. When these are coupled to the growth in Americas military, political and economic power; which is nonetheless inevitable, Americans abroad will continue to be harassed, kidnapped or even killed (Sullivan 2002).
Due to globalization and the incessant quest for profit maximization, corporations are outsourcing work to Asian nations and other developing countries with cheap labor. This means that Americans are losing jobs to countries with cheap labor laws. Moreover, as these multinationals set their equally sophisticated and well equipped production units abroad, quality that should be resident in the United States is transferred to other countries. Currently, millions of individuals are unemployed in the United States due to the ills of the capitalistic market system.
Increasing unemployment rate is a direct threat to social cohesion and national security. Thus, unless properly guided, globalization may begin an era of social degeneration. The prospect of corporations ruling the country and the citizens playing to the interests of profit maximization is even bleaker. Since globalization is driven by capitalism and capitalism is in turn driven by the profit motive, the rates of production are likely to increase to meet the demands of the consumerist culture.
With America currently producing the highest concentrations of green house gases, the prospects of increased global warming and climatic change effects such as storms, droughts, floods, fires, pestilence and disease cannot be understated(Garrison 2004). These negative effects will affect every single citizen of the United States. McDonaldization which is a globalization phenomenon has been blamed for popularizing the fast food culture in which a majority of the population is engaged in the consumption of unhealthy foods.
The net result is deteriorating health and increasing prevalence of lifestyle related diseases such as diabetes, obesity and a host of cardiovascular diseases. It can therefore be seen that globalization has the potential of creating complex problems for the United States. It is undeniable that not all effects of globalization are negative. However, values that create a common identity among people of the world must be protected with vigor to help maintain sanity in the whirlpool that is globalization.
References Garrisson, J. (2004). America as empire: global leader or rogue power? Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 41-45 Holton, R. J. (1998). Globalization and the nation-state. Palgrave Macmillan, 90-96 Lechner, F. , & Boli, J. (2004). The globalization reader. 2nd Edn. Wiley-Blackwell, 201-205 Lewellen, T. C. (2002). The anthropology of globalization: cultural anthropology enters the 21st century. Greenwood Publishing Group, 8-17 Sulliva, J. J. (2002). The future of corporate globalization: from the extended order to the global village. Greenwood Publishing Group, 136-138