Globalization and the Impact to Democracy Essay

Pages: 7 (2251 words)  ·  Style: Harvard  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Government

Globalization and Democracy

"Some argue that [democracy and globalization] go hand in hand -- that unrestricted international transactions encourage political accountability and transparency and that politically free societies are least likely to restrict the mobility of goods and services. Others argue that democracies, in which special interests that suffer from foreign competition have voice, are more likely to have closed markets and vice versa" (Eichengreen, et al., 2007, p. 289).

The concept of globalization is seen by some as a new phenomenon, a concept that emerged due to the digital revolution, and due to the remarkable advances in communication and information that link states and companies with a surprising immediacy though they be in far-flung parts of the world. Globalization has been called a curse for the developing world, and it has also been referred to as the path to a better economic future in terms of the marketing of goods and services. But the linkage between globalization and democracy has apparently not been as thoroughly reviewed and critiqued as other aspects of globalization, and this paper delves into the impact -- positive and negative -- to democracy that globalization has created.

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Essay on Globalization and the Impact to Democracy Assignment

UCLA Professor David Wilkinson presents an essay in the book Globalization and Global History that puts an historic and contemporary perspective on the concept of globalization that, in a scholarly way, sets the record straight. The most poignant issue he raises at the outset -- after pointing out that globalization is "an enlargement" of "human social progress" or alternatively globalization is an expansion of "human-driven ecological processes" -- refers to processes and time (Wilkinson, 2006, p. 63). "Which…human or human-driven processes have in the past expanded from local to global scope, or are doing it now?" (Wilkinson, 63). After asking that question, the professor launches into an interesting and relevant essay on globalization and history -- and in effect, globalization's current impact on democracy. In this, he takes a positivist viewpoint, indicating what is real rather than what should be happening.

Wilkinson notes that globalization is not a new movement and it did not emerge after the Second World War, nor did it come into being after the Cold War. It is much older than that, he insists. Meanwhile he mentions (cryptically) those who mock globalization. He alludes to the "narrow concept" that some "anti-globalists" see vis-a-vis the potential "nightmare" that every one in the world would be drinking Starbucks coffee, fattening up on McDonald's burgers, shopping at Wal-Mart, or engaging in another slice of life that cultural / global homogeneity brings forth.

On a more scholarly note, Wilkinson explains that the actual globalization of political movements "has been underway since the French Revolution began the export of liberal democracy by force and propaganda" (64). The globalization of "multinational intervention" -- a "landmark" -- goes back to the Boxer rebellion in Manchu China in 1900, Wilkinson explains, when a number of nations intervened in that conflict in China.

Some might say the globalization of warfare began with the First and Second World Wars albeit Wilkinson goes back to the 17th century when the French and British battled in India and in America (65). The author references a number of other events in history that could be referred to as the launch of globalization. In one sentence he settles on a "…5,000-year timescale for globalization as a process" but in the next sentence he references "human history" having begun in Africa when the first primates began scattering to distant location on the planet; and that, he asserts, was the launch of the globalization of the species, a "…prerequisite of all other globalizations, and a mystery and a marvel as well" (66).

Will democracy survive given the possibility of long-term globalization? Physical processes most often have "limits," he remarks. That human / political limit might be: a) a world economy-ecology that responds to explosive population growth with a "long cycle of global famines, epidemics and disporas"; b) a new plague (like the Black Plague) could arrive because of the failure of "high-tech food production systems"; or c) the social pressures likely will continue to drive "social reconfiguration" as has been the case since the dawn of human existence (68-69).

Meanwhile Dr. Joachim Karl Rennstich -- an associate professor of political science at Fordham University -- uses the extended evolutionary world politics (EWP) framework to show that globalization is "essentially evolutionary" and indeed has roots going back to 900 BCE (Rennstich, 2006, pp. 184-185). Globalization is not "a unique occurrence" that began with industrialization in the 20 century, he insists, using a positivist approach. Instead, he traces economic and political processes to the Sung Dynasty in 930 BCE, including the development of paper, of printing, and the invention of the actual mechanical clock (Rennstich, 186). In 1190 there was the "Commercial / Nautical Revolution" (on the Black Sea) and in 1430 ocean trade began. Clearly, the concept of trade on the high seas conjures up images of the beginning of globalization.

The Phoenicians became a leading trading and seafaring power around 1,100 BCE, using their longboats and galleons in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and the Mediterranean; this has to be seen as a globalizing era in world history, and hence, Rennstich has made his point well.

Everything has gone Global: But has Democracy been left behind?

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, new horizons, new hopes, and new markets were to open up in a democratic world. This was the "…unchallenged victory of the market and democracy," writes Yves Meny, professor at the European University Institute in Italy (Meny, 2010, p. 259). However, the transition from Cold War paranoia and tension to western values "…did not lead to moderation, but the opposite." (Meny, 260) and while "everything has become global" -- the marketing of goods, the circulation of ideas, money, values and people -- Meny believes that the issues and problems have followed the same pattern" (260).

In other words, democracy has not been part of the globalization package, and globalization has been taken from the hands those who "masterminded" and "initiated" modern globalization, Meny continues, adding that globalization is now at warp speed and moving in a direction nobody is "…able to control" (260).

The Endgame of Globalization (for the U.S.)

Meanwhile, zeroing in on the 21st century view of globalization, author Neil Smith paints a dark, brooding portrait of America's political and economic brand of globalization. Smith, dipping into normative value judgments, clearly believes the United States' approach to globalization has done little or nothing to open doors to democracy in the world. Smith opens his book the Endgame of Globalization by linking the U.S. invasion of Iraq (and failure to win over the people) with the British brief control over Iraq in the 20th century as examples of how "astonishingly naive" both nations were to assume the Iraqi population would "cede national control to an invading power that breathes the flames of imperial ambition" (Smith, 2005, p. 7). By inference, Smith alludes to America's sloppy attempt at globalization via political and military efforts in several countries. Smith's agenda with reference to the U.S. points to the failure of American interventions at the international level juxtaposed with the fading belief that the "American dream" can be shoved down throats once the "nefarious enemies" are removed from the story (Smith, 12-13). America's push for free trade, Smith continues, was actually an attempt to "…open up the world economy for [U.S.] exploitation" using "diplomatic and economic blackmail tools to move it forward" (Smith, 14).

Later in his book Smith assails the U.S. For its "America first" approach and its pushy policies worldwide (203), policies that he believes will end up as a "failing globalism" because "Empire builders have always found to their chagrin that world domination is a fleeting dream" (207). Smith cynically concludes that for the United States, "…globalization's endgame looks increasingly like failure rather than success" (209). American imperialism will fail, Smith says, and scholars looking closely can see "…the beginning of the end" -- and that's the "good news" (209). The bad news, Smith continues, is that "a flailing Americanism may exact a horrific cost in human lives" (209).

Global Governance and Democracy

A group of prominent scholars and policymakers are presenting the idea that "global governance" (an apparent product of the politics of globalization) is "inherently undemocratic" simply because it tends to undermine "popular sovereignty" (Goodhart, et al., 2011, p. 1047). This tension is real, the authors argue, because global governance can undermine constitutional government by "ceding legislative authority to unelected and unaccountable entities" (Goodhart, 1047). Goodhart, a political science professor at the University of Pittsburgh, points to the European Union as an example of global governance, which seems to the "new sovereigntists" (those fearing usurpation of democratic power) to be eroding democratic control and individual freedom (1048).

And while Goodhart and colleague do not agree with the new sovereigntists (some call this group a bunch of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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