Currently in international circles there is a great debate over globalisation and whether it is a force for good or bad. The statement oversimplifies the matter, of course. But the issue of globalisation and our collective response to it promises to define who prospers and who does not well into the 21st century. Globalisation has positive and negative aspects. On top of its positive aspects comes the tremendous development of new information and communication technology, triggers in economic growth through increased trade and job creation around the world. This economical growth can be illustrated by the fact that the world real GDP grew from US$2 trillion to US$28 trillion, which means an increase of 1400%. On a per capita basis, this means an increase of US$614 to US$4908, an increase of about 800%. The quality of life in developed countries has increased However, anti-globalisation supporters affirm that although there was an economical growth, this was not well distributed throughout society, and that over the past 150 years, the rich countries are developing at a faster rate than the poor countries, increasing the difference between them. This happens because dealing with globalisation in a capitalist society, there will always be winners and losers.
The winners will be the nations which have more skill, technology, information, power and money, whilst the losers will be the poor countries, which export primarily goods and rely on the rich countries to obtain technology and manufactured goods. As a term, globalisation means different things to different people. To some, it is a purely economic trend, the result of the market system unleashed on a worldwide scale, a century-long process that has now been vastly accelerated by the fall of Communism and the relaxation of other restrictive economic practices. As has the impact and growth of globalisation changed, so has its meaning during the last decades. But what is certain is that globalisation is not something of today or yesterday. Among the so many given definitions, Martin Wolf defines globalisation as a “journey, but toward an unreachable destination, the globalised world. A globalised economy in which, neither distance nor national borders impede economic transactions.
A world where the cost of transport and communication were zero and the barriers created by differing national jurisdictions had vanished”. (Wolf, 2001: 178). But globalisation is a very wide notion, which embraces the social, cultural, and political interdependency of states. Globalisation refers also to the integration and interaction between different people and nations. Take the European Union as an example, where the member states share the same democratic values and norms, or the convergence and similarities of the constitutions of the member states, which could lead to a European law or constitution. To others, it defines the ever widening process of international interchange and interconnection that can be witnessed in so many aspects of life, whether the casual observation that top musical artists draw increasingly on other cultures for their melodies and rhythms, the news that former enemies are now participating in joint peacekeeping missions, or the realisation that there are suddenly many more foreign faces and accents in your hometown than before.
No matter what the definition, globalisation is dynamic and real, causing numerous and often radical changes in all but the most remote places. Depending on your point of view, circumstance and prospects, the process can be seen as hugely positive or grossly negative. Those who defend globalisation say it is bringing prosperity to untold millions around the world, breaking down national and cultural barriers, and helping to speed the general process of peace-building. Critics say that the chaotic manner in which market forces have scaled up to the global level has unleashed a destructive whirlwind that treats workers callously, serves too often to further impoverish the poor at the expense of the rich, and wreaks vast amounts of environmental destruction. They say that its side effects are equally horrific, ranging from the spread of AIDS and drug abuse to the creation of a world monoculture that destroys local traditions and squelches diversity.
At the 1995 World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen, nations of the world took note of this dualism: “Globalization, which is a consequence of increased human mobility, enhanced communications, greatly increased trade and capital flows, and technological developments, opens new opportunities for sustained economic growth and development of the world economy, particularly in developing countries. Globalization also permits countries to share experiences and to learn from one another’s achievements and difficulties, and promotes a cross-fertilization of ideals, cultural values and aspirations. At the same time, the rapid processes of change and adjustment have been accompanied by intensified poverty, unemployment and social disintegration.
Threats to human well-being, such as environmental risks, have also been globalized.” Inasmuch as the pain caused by some aspects of globalisation is undeniable, the real issue is whether the negative effects of its sweeping processes can be ameliorated and the positive effects enhanced. Because in the opinions of some, the forward march of globalisation is unstoppable. The notion concept of sovereignty refers to the three-fold capacity of a state, which is the “absolute supremacy over internal affairs within its territory, absolute right to govern its people, and freedom from any external interference in the above matters” (Wang, 2004: 473). So a state is sovereign if it has the ability to make and implement laws within its territory, and can function without any external power and assistance, and doesn’t acknowledges any higher authority above itself in the world of independent states. From the above definition one can draw the conclusion that either a state can be sovereign or not, since sovereignty is defined as the absolute supremacy and right of the government in a given state. A realist like Steven D.Krasner agrees on the collapsing autonomy of states but deny the impact of globalisation on nation state, which could possibly lead to the death of state sovereignty.
He argues, “Those who proclaim the death of sovereignty misread the history. The nation state has a keen instinct for survival and has so far adapted to new challenges, even the challenge of globalization” (Krasner, 2001: 20). He also argues that globalisation is not a new challenge or phenomena. Viewed from a criminological point, “the perceived normality of high crime rates, together with thee widely acknowledged limitations of criminal justice agencies, have begun to erode one of the foundational myths of modern societies: namely, the myth that the sovereign state is capable of providing security, law and order, crime control within its territorial boundaries” (Garland, 1996: 448). The notion of legitimate organized violence monopoly, which is of great importance for the internal order as well as for the foreign accountability of a state, is challenged by the international criminality. Since states cannot provide security for their citizens and are not capable of guaranteeing internal order, one of the fundamental elements of state sovereignty is undermined and questioned.
The negative effects of globalisation can be softened only through new and higher levels of international cooperation and consultation, filtered through a new system of moral values that puts human welfare and social justice ahead of the predominantly materialistic paradigm currently in vogue. Call this global governance. Call it world government. But one way or the other, the forces of globalisation will require the creation of some sort of international super authority, one that can ensure that human rights and workers’ prerogatives are upheld, and that the environment is protected, as globalisation proceeds. Another factor that is observed is that the number of poor people (people living with less than US$1 per day) has increased, and reached almost 1.2 billion people, which is almost one fifth of the world’s total population. This is partly caused by the increase in global population, but also due to the distribution of the money. The ratio of income between the worlds twenty percent richest and twenty percent poorest has increased from 30:1 to 78:1.
Many people also question the issue of globalisation creating more jobs when multinationals establish new factories in foreign countries. Their argument is that although more jobs are created, and that this reduces the unemployment, these jobs don’t require any skill and workers have very bad working conditions, working long hours and receiving little money. And as the workers have no other working options, and working in these factories is their only source of income, they can’t do anything else, but work to try to survive. Besides this, the unemployment levels are very high, which means that there is always someone available to substitute workers that aren’t happy with what they are being offered.
These facts make us think in a way of making globalisation fairer, and giving developing countries the chance of benefiting more from it. So that this can happen, there are many things that need to be changed. First of all the development needs to be more focused on the people, and not only in financial reasons. Fairer rules and deeper partnerships should be done between developed and developing countries so they can have a mutually beneficial relationship. Also one of the most important things to ensure that nations can benefit the most from globalisation is that a powerful, democratic and more effective UN helps to control the spread and paths of globalisation.
From this we can conclude that globalisation is one of the most important factors of the new century, and that it will continue spreading and growing all around the world, reaching the furthest corners of the planet. The question of whether it is good or bad can never be answered completely, and there isn’t a right or wrong answer, because there will always be good and bad sides to it. At present globalisation seems to be beneficial for some and detrimental to others. For globalisation to be beneficial to the majority depends on how it is treated and controlled. Globalisation could be very beneficial to society as a whole if managed correctly.