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Globalization Through the Internationalist LensEssay

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Globalization

Defining the Concept

Globalization is understood as a concept of increasing integration of people and societies around the world. This condition has been brought about by the reduction of barriers that have traditionally divided people. Those divisions resulted in compartmentalization, where cultures, nations and lifestyles sometimes differed quite significantly between peoples. With instant global communication, rapid transportation, reductions in trade barriers and weakening of the nation-state, the barriers that have traditionally separated people are being reduced, leading to a condition of the world where people are more closely linked with one another than before.

Globalization is a process, one that is in its nascent stages. These processes are ongoing. Technological change in communications has improved the ease and speed with which we can communicate with one another. Where in the early 1990s many people in the world only had landlines, and in many countries this infrastructure was poor, today people can access the Internet from anywhere. This technology has greatly improve the pace with which we can communicate. There are many outcomes related to this. For example, a country like India improves its economy by winning call center jobs, something that would have been impossible in the early 1990s. Furthermore, the spread of English as a local lingua franca has coincided with the emergence of the Internet, where English is the dominant language. Where many other languages were equally important in the 20th century in their own regions, English has emerged as the global second language. This implies that the world is bigger, when people whose parents learned Russian or French as a second language now learn English instead.

Transportation advances have improved our ability to travel, and perhaps more important has spurred the development of a global economy. Prior to the advent of international trade agreements, trade in most goods was compartmentalized in regions. There were some goods that were traded globally -- coffee and spices have been traded globally for centuries -- but now manufactured goods are traded globally. Commodity goods were globalized out of necessity, because production was inherently limited geographically. Today, manufactured goods are produced globally, and not because they have to be, but because improvements in transportation infrastructure and the reduction of trade barriers have made it possible to do so economically.

Globalization is a new name for an old phenomenon, as there were always some links between different regions, but the pace at which these links have developed has accelerated greatly in recent decades. The multiple forces that drive globalization are not only evolving rapidly but are converging in ways not seen in the world before.

Internationalist Perspective

The internationalist perspective is one means by which the forces of globalization can be understood. This perspective is oriented towards understanding the world through multiple, international lenses, taking in the varying unique perspectives on a subject, in this case globalization (Wandrei, 2016). The international perspective on globalization views it as various forces that change the lives of people in a country. An example would be to examine how globalization affects each country, noting changes in that society that can be directly attributed to the forces of globalization.

The internationalist recognizes the influence of globalization's forces on global culture. In a world where physical geography and strong nation-states formed barriers to intercultural interaction, cultures emerged that were distinct from one another. An extreme example can be found today on the island of New Guinea, where there are still 1000 languages used. Steep mountain valleys and thick jungle limited the potential for interaction, so each tribe had its own unique identity, language and culture. In Europe, where geographic barriers were fewer, cultures were more similar, owing to a higher degree of interaction -- only a handful of languages remain today, and these are far fewer than what once existed.

The internationalist sees today that when cultures interact, they influence each other. The lazy writer cites things like American popular culture influence on the rest of the world, but that is a superficial example. More deeply-ingrained cultural values are becoming global in nature, especially among the millennial generation. The internationalist sees that there is some evidence of global convergence on Western values of liberty and capitalism, and where there is convergence yet there are often tensions as these values interact with a society's more traditional values. Culture is not yet global, of course, but there are signs of a global culture emerging, a syncretic blend of Western commercial influences and local traditions. Old cultures are by no means dead, but they are evolving.

Some of the agents of globalization, such as the United Nations, are actually playing a role in the preservation of global culture. UNESCO in particular is concerned with ensuring that the unique aspects of global culture, both tangible and intangible, are preserved, through funding and a variety of programs, including means of educating people around the world about the value of unique cultural elements (UNESCO, 2004).

The internationalist perspective on economics was always fraught with tension. From Ricardo, the nation-state in economics never made that much sense, because trade works best when there are no barriers. Trade barriers, which rely on the nation-state for their existence, are a transaction cost that infringes on economic efficiency -- they are deadweight loss. It was inevitable, given this prevailing view of economics, that globalization in economics would be one of the first steps; it was 200 years in the making before the Common Market solidified the modern concept of economic integration. Nations have been evolving into a collection of supranational trade blocs, and modern trade agreements have been criticized for their embedded capability to infringe on national sovereignty (Wofford, 2015).

The internationalist perspective looks at the political dimension as well. Different nations have arisen with sometimes vastly different concepts of how to govern their societies. Nations participating in the international community range from absolute monarchies to brutal dictatorships to fully open democracies. Convergence in terms of local political structures has not occurred to much extent. However, there are some ways that globalization influences the political dimension. First, nations that require assistance from the international community, such as funding from the IMF or World Bank, typically contain provisions that encourage countries to adopt free market principles. The IMF sees itself as an agent for the promotion of globalization, so such provisions are a way of using its financial power to advance its goals of global economic integration, but they come by dictating to sovereign governments how their countries should be run (Kohler, 2003).

Another way that internationalists would view the political dimension is in the decline of the power of the nation-state. Supranational bodies are eroding the role of the nation-state in governing their sovereign territories. Trade critics point to investor-state dispute resolution mechanisms are superseding the old "state-to-state" dispute mechanisms favored by the WTO (Won, 2007). States are willingly weakening their own authority, and are setting the framework to interact with large corporate entities as equals, rather than as superiors. Politically, this has some interesting implications, such as the erosion of democracy and transparency as key philosophical underpinnings of Western political structures, and the rising value of state-owned companies as vehicles for enhancing state power.

The rise of supranational bodies in global politics has also brought about considerable changes to the political realm. Even when most countries have experienced minimal changes to their political structures as a result of these forces, the rise of supranational bodies leads to a more common global governance. There are sometimes significant tensions here, as the stark differences between the political philosophies of governments around the world play themselves out on the global stage -- there is a high degree of incompatibility that will need to be resolved before supranational government structures will increase their power.

Conclusions

The forces that are driving globalization are changing the world in many ways. The cultural dimension is changing, moving towards convergence in some ways, but encouraging the blending of different cultures and expanding influence in other ways. National cultures are still strong, but they are increasingly influenced through intercultural interaction. The economic dimension is where globalization is furthest along, and where progress is the most linear in nature. The world is becoming increasingly globalized economically, as the 2008 crisis illustrated. The emergence of global supply chains in manufactured goods and in services exemplifies the rapid progression of global integration on the economic dimension, and nations are striving to find their competitive advantages in order to remain relevant actors in the international system.

The political dimension has seen the least change as the result of globalization, with most countries being run according to their own traditions and history. However, the rise of supranational bodies is a trend in globalization that could challenge the validity of the nation-state at some point in the future. Ultimately, however, there remain strong tensions between different systems of governance that are difficult to resolve. Where a culture or economy can be selective about how and when global integration occurs, supranational bodies like… [END OF PREVIEW]

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