Sunday, October 2, 2011

There's no "me" in globalization, or is there?

Globalization is a process. This point was briefly touched on in this week’s class. People have always traveled and explored. The desire for international connections is not a new phenomenon. Now it’s just easier. Journeys that previously took months to complete now take hours. We can maintain relationships with friends we’ve made on the other side of the world.  

Sinclair writes that the globalization process has brought increased interdependence and more exchanges among nation-states. This is mainly due to extreme advances in technology. Global trade transactions that Marco Polo could have only dreamed of are now not only possible but also practically instantaneous. Technological efficiency is something that we have arguably perfected. What we are nowhere near perfecting is cooperation.

Supranational organizations arise as an attempt to meet a common goal. Their success is hampered by an inability to compromise. The nation-state is still the major player in these organizations. Every action or law is considered in terms of its effects on each state. As each state considers its own interests, the greater good gets lost.
The European Union, established in 1993, is a relatively young supranational institution. On the surface, the benefits seem great – easier financial transactions and more convenient traveling.  Right now the EU is struggling with a financial crisis. Critics have wondered whether the euro is to blame. Somewhat unsurprisingly, there is a lack of consensus on how to resolve it. Economic powerhouse Germany isn’t all that interested in bailing out its weaker co-members. Germany isn’t alone.

Globalization in practice is actually a system of mutual selfishness. It’s an economic reality but a superficial sentiment. The U.S. is also an interesting case study. Sinclair mentions Sony as an example of a global corporation whose success proved that the U.S. is also subject to globalization. I’m not sure the U.S. is thrilled with competition from overseas manufacturers.  

Three years ago President Obama said Americans should be buying American cars to boost the ailing auto industry. Recently he said the U.S. needed to improve trading agreements. “You see a whole bunch of Korean cars here in the United States, and you don't see any American cars in Korea.” The goal is to spread one’s products far and wide, but not necessarily to be accepting when other states do the same. While some activists and scholars try to see globalization as a means to development, in reality it remains a game dominated by powerful political players. 

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