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COLUMN

Globalization Uniting the World

Guest Column
Josiah D. Seale

Globalization. The very sound of it brings about myriad instinctive reactions. Some respond in fear, seeking to ensure that jobs and inflation are not affected by outside influences. Others respond with eagerness. In this society, perhaps it would be enthusiasm for the outsourcing of labor to countries where it is inexpensive, as well as for the import of primary-sector goods. This allows the parties in question to benefit to the utmost.

Others might respond with indifference, while still others might have no clue as to what the question even is. Even the definition of globalization is a source of contention among academia. What it boils down to, in essence, is the increased relationship between nation-states. This interaction may begin on a purely economic level, but if it continues, the social and political are brought in as well, out of necessity or by default.

The advent of communication and transportation technology on the international scene is making huge waves, as it has been for the past 100 years or so. Even the last 10 years have seen an enormous drop in the costs of international communication. I can now contact my friends in Venezuela at no cost whenever I please, or read Parisian headlines in Boston, even as they land on doorsteps in Montmartre.

On the economic front, relationships may be as simple as those of NAFTA, or as complicated as those of the EU. The difference between the states involved has a large influence on the nature of these relationships. What role does the World Trade Organization play? The International Monetary Fund? How about internal politics? Many different comparatively small issues have a huge “butterfly flapping its wings” sort of effect on the overall. How does the “France for the French” stance of the French affect the relationships between the EU and Algeria? How does this affect relationships between Germany and Turkey?

There comes a point in globalization where the states involved must either continue until full-fledged federalism, or back off into comparative isolationism. When, as the EU does, you have a common currency and no internal borders, you must also have a common policy on import duties and on interest rates, as well a Common Foreign and Security Policy. For these to exist, they must be set by someone or something. Be that an individual or a supra-national group, you are arriving at a point wherein supra-national interests may supplant national ones. The issues involved with this are obscure enough that the integration may take place, with the perhaps dissenting public unawares.

My prediction, from analysis of the current world setup, is that globalization will gather steam by nation-states clumping together in successively larger groups. The EU would constitute such a group. What once was the scene of the Hundred Years War is now becoming the world’s greatest economy. With the advent of the CFSP, and perhaps the possibility to support a Combined Joint Task Force without unanimity (in essence, allowing a sort of senatorial body to wage war), the EU will be able to take more and more actions as a unified autonomous entity on every level.

Is this a good thing? I would argue for a qualified yes. Essentially, what we are undergoing today is the breakdown of barriers between populations. This has been happening for as long as can be remembered. In prehistoric times, the unit of overall decision-making shifted first from the individual to the family, from the family to the tribe, and so on. What we are seeing now is simply the continuation of this process, from a national to a supra-national level. In each shift, there have been many changes. In each change, society has needed to change as well. People are allowed to specialize more and more in the field where they perform best.

Bostonians do not necessarily need to till fields anymore. There are many other levels where they happen to be better (i.e., making New Balance shoes or embracing start-up companies). This fact no doubt made things more difficult for Bostonian agriculturalists, but in the end, they simply switched to other areas. This switch might be from Boston to Minnesota, or from agriculture to industry, but nevertheless, it was made.

Yes, globalization does imply many changes. The whole issue of preservation of culture has not even been touched here. Nevertheless, the end result of these changes is that people are allowed, even encouraged, to do what they do best. The fact that society is helped in realizing its potential to the utmost, in my opinion, causes the overall outcome to be a great improvement.

In the end, it is the overall outcome that will make the greatest impact on humanity.

Josiah D. Seale is a member of the Class of 2002.