Globalization: Threat or Promise?
GLOBALIZATION IS BEING presented as the process of enhancing collective
measures to stop international violence and wars, to save global
environment, and to eliminate Third World poverty and economic inequality
through developed communications, investments, trade, and aid.
Globalization implies that "bigger is better."
But the central question is: what caused these problems in the first place?
Otherwise we end up with the logic of the tragedies caused by drunk
driving. More policing, more fines, more punishment, while selling more
liquor to the drivers, cannot end drunk driving. The solution lies in going
to the root of drunkenness, that is, alcoholism! The root causes for the
current global malaise are twofold: (a) massive and reckless
industrialization, and (b) dehumanization of science, technology, and
By "massiveness" I mean mass production leading to mass surpluses
necessitating mass distribution and mass consumption through massive
technologicalization, capitalization, monopolization, and
By dehumanization I mean total concentration of the industries on
commercial profit and economic power to a total exclusion of concerns for
human health and happiness in terms of physical, intellectual, and economic
Massive industrialization necessitates massive supplies of raw materials,
energy sources, capital, trade, and markets. The amassing of these
ingredients in the initial stage of industrialization creates an
exploitative system within the society. I call it domestic colonialism.1 As
industrialization becomes more and more massive, it leads to reckless
expansion of colonialism abroad.2 Informal and defacto colonialism is
The oppression of the peoples in the colonies, the struggle to maintain,
defend, or expand colonies, necessitate militarization, inter-colonial
wars, and world wars.3
Goods produced have to be sold and consumed. Hence the rise of the
revolutions in transportation and communications. While development in
transportation helps move goods and travellers, it also helps in the fast
moving of war machines and soldiers to every nook and corner of the world.
The mass media of communications-from the printing press to computer chips
and satellites-have become the instruments of propaganda, thought control,
and brainwashing. The Time Magazine imperialism or CNN neo-colorüalism are
the examples.4 The globalized messages of racism, ethnicism, sexism,
religionism, dogmatism, and jingoism flourished through the media
imperialism. These narrow-minded messages, which are used to boost
industrialization, have also caused communal antagonisms and blood baths on
national and international levels.
Mass production built on the assembly line and automation makes workers
redundant. Unemployed workers can create strains and stresses on the
economic-political system. The Europe of the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries got rid of its surplus unwanted population by shipping them out
to new continents. Today millions of descendants of European ancestry are
spread around the world. Such emigration not only reduced tensions within
Europe, but also created colonies that became the suppliers of raw
materials, slave and cheap labour, captured markets, investment, and
profit-making opportunities. Worse than that, the colonies provided arms,
armies, and battlefields.5 This history cannot be repeated to help the
industrialization of the Third-World countries.
Day one of the technological revolution in industry was also the day one of
the revolution in arms manufacture. Every technological improvement was
quickly translated into more and more destructive weaponry.6 This
"techno-industrial~military complex" also became the powerful vehicle of
militarization, world wars, and colonialization.
This has been the legacy of globalization of massive industrialization. Now
the contemporary advocates of globalization are sloganeering that what is
good for the developed West is also good for the poor states. The haunting
fact is that the United States, one country out of 185 in the world. uses
up nearly 40 per cent of world resources.
The old imperialists now call themselves G7 or G8, the donor nations, the
money-lenders to IMF and the World Bank. The old victims are now called the
protectorates, the allies,the satellites, the recipients of aid, and so on.
The proponents of globalization are pushing free trade treaties and
Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI). They have formed free trade
zones, NAFTA, ECM, WTO, etc. Free trade and investment are undoubtedly
profitable for the developed countries, but its usefulness to the Third
World is highly dubious.7 The recent sudden economic collapse of Asia's
"minor dragons" betrayed the false bottom of the neo-colonial dependent
economies. The collapse of these Asian countries is the manifestation of
globalization that is being advocated by MNCs, the IMF, and the World
Bank.8 In the immortal words of William Kaiser, "free trade is the weapon
of the strong, protectionism is the shield of the weak."
Massive industrialization is impossible without globalized colonialism and
colonialism is unavoidable for globalized industries. It is an oxymoron to
argue that globalized poverty and economic inequalities can be eliminated
by globalized industrialism and neo-colonialism. As long as economic
inequalities exist in the world and as long as the rich and the developed
states insist on improving and sustaining their own wealth and well-being,
globalization of free trade and investment will never bring about equitable
economic benefits to all the nations in the world. Some regions and
nationalities, within and outside the state, will always end up as the
victims of trade inequalities.
Another tragic consequence that is often played down by the advocates of
massive industrialization is the fact that the more technological and
industrialized an economy becomes, the more unemployment it generates
through trade cycles of booms and bursts through redundancy. Mechanization
displaces workers and automation makes workers redundant. Advanced
industrialization, whether under capitalism, communism, or fascism, becomes
dehumanized by focusing on productivity and competitiveness, and on power
and profit, through increased automation and rationalization and
While proclaiming pious platitudes of humanitarianism, the investors and
money-lenders from the rich countries work for their own profitability. It
is like my banker who lends me money but seeks high interest and a mortgage
on everything I own-from cuff links to cars-and is ever ready to confiscate
them. When I fail to make the payments. Should this Shylock banker, who
wants his pound of flesh, claim that he is doing me a favour?
Globalization of trade, investments, and banking can only mean further
dictation and domination of the developed countries and further
indebtedness and impoverishment of the undeveloped or developing countries.
The globalized Shylocks will undoubtedly demand their pound of flesh!
In short, the answer to globalized militarization and wars, to globalized
pollution and ecological disaster, and to globalized exploitation, poverty,
and inequality, is not more globalization, but less of it, and its eventual
Small-scale and indigenized industries that are built upon national
self-reliance and self-sufficiency, with minimum surpluses, will lead to
devolution and decentralization of economic productivity. Such produdivity
will accordingly reduce science-technology to the level suitable to
small-scale industries, will reduce the need for raw materials, energy and
pollution, and will reduce colonialization, militarization, militarism, and
massive wars. Small economies will lead to the sheddingof the big
government and the big state. The appeals for globalized racism, ethnicism,
religionism, and jingoism will become irrelevant. Conflicts that are
natural to human community may not be eliminated in the small-scale
political economy, but the variety of conflicts and their internationalized
intensities would be enormously reduced. The global crises of our time can
be handled at two levels-(a) certain stages and degrees of
deindustrialization through indigenization, devolution, and
decentralization of industrial capacities in the developed world; and (b)
the rehumanization of all science-technology and industry. These steps, of
course, imply paradigm shifts. While the Third World must reject Western
models of development, the false gods, and should redefine development in
terms of basic necessities of life, and higher emphasis on cultural and
intellectual growth, the developed world must commit itself to lessened
materialism, greed, and selfishness, and to enhanced spiritual and
Those who argue that such shifts are impractical are indeed fatalists
believing in predestination like Augustine's original sin, or Herbert
Spencer's Social Darwinism, or Karl Marx's materialist determinism, or the
evolution concept of unidirectional linear progression. Though raised in
the name of realism, these concepts are unreal, negative, pessimistic, and
cynical. The Gandhian formulation of "practical idealism" is the panacea
for such fatalism. This formula focuses on struggle without enslavement to
success. In contemporary version this means, "think globally, act locally."
Some argue that science-technology and industrialization are not inherently
immoral; it is their misuse that causes problems. My criticism is of their
massiveness and dehumanization that transform their very purpose (telos).
True, the sword by itself does not kill people; people using it kill
people. But in the human context, the very purpose for the creation of the
sword is to inflict pain or death on human beings. This destructive purpose
of the sword will not change until the sword, in Biblical terms, is beaten
into ploughshare. When it becomes a ploughshare, then it is not a sword by
definition and purpose. Thus ends and means should be integrated, not
In fin, globalization is not the panacea for the contemporary world crises;
globalization is deepening these crises, the remedy lies in the
deglobalization of the dehumanized trade, investment, and aid schemes. The
answer for the twenty-first century lies in the rehumanization of
science-technology and industry.
Notes and References
1. See M.V. Naidu, "Development and Peace: An Attempt at
ConceptuaIiLation of 'Initial Development'," in his edited volume War,
Security, Peace (Oakville, Ontario: M.I.T.A. Press, 1996), p. 415-31.
2. By 1914 Britain captured 33.5 million sq. kms. of territory with a
population of 384 million people. By 1917, the US acquired 730,000 sq. kms.
of land with 17.6 million people. By 1914 the Tsarist empire had expanded
to 17.4 million sq. miles and 33.2 million people. See M.. Naidu, Dimension
of Peace (Oakville, Ontario: M.I.T.A. Press, 1996), pp. 222-23. Between the
1850s and the 1910s Western industrialization was helped with huge supplies
of raw materials from the colonies. During this period world production
of coal went up by 1320%, copper by 1834%, gold by 1218%, iron ore by
1113%, cotton by 127~/~, wheat by 67% and rubber by 44%. See M.V. Naidu,
"Western Models of Development," in Antony Copley and George Paxton, eds,
Gandhi and Contemporary World (Chennai, India: Indo-British Historical
Society, 1997), p. 84.
3. Between 1750 and 1945 the United States, Britain, Germany, and
Russia! Soviet Union were involved in thirty-six colonial wars and two
world wars. Derived from Quincy Wright, A Study of War (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1965), Second Edition, Tables 36-41.
4. The developed world controls 60% of the world's newspapers, 650/o
of the world's radios and 65"/, of the books published in the world. See
Sean MacBride e~ _'!., Many Voices, One World (London: UNESCO and Kogan
Press, 1980), p. 125.
5. During World War 1 1,800,000 soldiers and 400,000 labourers were
recruited in India for the British armies overseas. To help the war
efforts, the British Viceroy of India "presented" to the British monarch a
"gift" o $100 million. See R. Majumdar and H.S. Raichaudhry, The Advanced
History of India (London: MacMillan, 1967).
6. Along with industrialization during the nineteenth century military
manufacturers and sales also expanded. The American Remington Rifles and
Colt revolvers, the British Dawson rifles, the Maxim machine-guns, and
battleships, and the German Cannons were mass produced and sold all over
the world. See M.V. Naidu, Dimensions of Peace, p. 227.
7. In 1965, 154 states exported goods worth $49 billion, while four of
the industrialized states earned $66 billion. The per capita GDP in North
America was $3,450 and in Europe was $1,600 while ~t was only $510 in Utin
America and $170 in Africa. See World Statistics in Brief (New York: United
Nations, 1979), p. 158 and 224. In 1975 the debt of the underdeveloped
countries was $173 billion; the debt grew to $754 billion by 1985. See Ruth
Sivard, World Military and Social Expenditures 1993 (Washington, D.C.:
World Priorities, 1993), p. 25.
8. Recently the economic troubles of Asia led to a bailout programme
by World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Loans were provided as
follows: Korea $57 billion; Indonesia $40 billion; and Thailand $17.2
billion. Some of the conditions imposed were the firing of workers, raising
of taxes and interest rates, reduction on social expenditures, and so on.
See Winnipeg Free Press, 17 January 1998, p. B17.
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