Positive and Negative Side of Globalization
The epoch in which humanity lives nowadays is quite unusual for a number of reasons. Due to development of computer technologies, mobile phones and the Internet, the spread of information and the pace of living have fastened dramatically. For a person living in developed countries today it is virtually impossible to escape the idea that the world has become a more globalized place to live in. Boundaries between countries are being blurred; cultures are penetrating each other and creating totally new formations. Being a citizen of the world instead of belonging to a certain country is as possible as never before. One can move to different places of the planet freely and enrich one’s experience by communicating with representatives of various cultures and countries. Globalization has many benefits but it has many dangers too. Many people are afraid of losing identity to whatever category it may refer: the national, ethnical, cultural, racial, historical, economical one, etc. The idea of inequality between wealthier and poorer states in the global world is another concern for humanity. These and other advantages and drawbacks will be further discussed in the current research.
When one speaks about globalization, a question arises whether it makes sense to struggle with it at all because it seems to be inevitable. Globalization is not so much a result of individual people’s activity and influence as by-product of universal laws according to which any civilization functions. Indeed, any system works as a whole and this huge mechanism cannot be stopped at will, even if a lot of people participate. So, when dealing with negative aspects of globalization, it apparently should be understood that one cannot cancel globalization, so only some amendments are possible to the process that is generally beyond people’s control because of its systemic nature. A funny paradox about antiglobalists who fight against globalization is that they came to the point of uniting cross-nationally in their struggle, which obviously means that they are part of globalization too. Jokes aside, it is true that globalization is a complex process that has both positive and negative sides to it, yet no one can deny its reality.
One of the aspects of globalization is formation of transnational organizations like WTO, NATO, European Union, World Bank and others. It the first one, the World Trade Organization, that regulates functioning of international trade between its members, to which most states of the world belong. In fact, free trade across the globe is one of the advantages that globalization can bring. This means that competition will be higher among different manufactures, which will urge them to fight for quality and for a more reasonable price. Thus, consumers can hope to get better goods eventually irrespective of the place of their living and of the place of the goods’ production. In contrast, when a country does not support free trade, like free export and especially import of products, there exist taxes for foreign goods which automatically increase their cost for the end buyer. Apparently, these methods are reasonable in the context of supporting local economy but this is not always a positive idea for consumers as they will have to buy a local product, which might be cheaper, but not always of the best quality. The extreme method of local economies’ support is total ban of importing some goods from abroad, which would mean that people only have access to nationally produced goods. However, nowadays more and more states realize that cross-national trade is an important factor in providing additional opportunities for their manufacturers and new markets where they have a chance to be more successful than in the native market. Thus, this is exactly what one means when speaking about globalization in the sphere of economics and trade. However, experience demonstrates that opportunities are not as equal for different countries as they are supposed to be, which results in negative consequences of globalization.
One of the aspects of competition between manufactures is the general trend of making prices for their goods lower than they would be without competition. Apparently, some of manufacturers will suffer because of this as keeping prices at a low level might mean that their income is smaller. However, there is no direct cause-effect connection between price and selling as transnational trade has a complex structure and pertains to several economic laws simultaneously. As a result, one should understand that the opposite trend is not surprising: making prices low can increase sales because either the target group will be different or it will be broader than when labeling a higher price. Besides, price policy on the global market might work differently that any manufacture would expect to have while working in the home market. Besides, one should not forget that having lower prices at a global scale means preventing high inflation, which is obviously a positive input for the global economy and will ensure its stability. Apparently, sacrifice in some fields is necessary in order to have benefit in other fields, and so risks are always present. Even at a global level, business always remains business, so it would be impossible to expect the same result for all, as someone will have more success. However, as many opponents of globalization believe, not only the outcome is different but also the idea equal opportunities for all is a myth, which will be further discussed. "Pro-golablizationists or capitalist argue there is little evidence of income inequality (Almas Heshmati says) for two reasons. First there is no previous data to prove the hypothesis, second levels of income inequality in the pre-globalization phase are undeterminable." (Bishop, Reinke, and Adams).
Another reason why globalization can have positive effect on the world consists in the idea that some global issues are impossible to be solved by individual countries. As an example, environmental problems, solutions and prevention, are clearly should be the focus of the whole world rather than individual countries. Even if a single country faces them, it is logical that other members of the international community should organize support to this country. An illustrative example to the idea was a situation of tsunami and earthquake in Japan, which lead to the ecological disaster with nuclear power reactors. Apparently, it would be wrong for any country to ignore the situation because this is a catastrophe of the global scale, which can affect the whole planet. When there are no special organizations, which deal with such issues in a well-established way, that help and support will not be as significant in any case. Some decisions presuppose participation of all countries, as they are issues of universal concerns. Naturally, some countries are bound to playing the role of leaders worldwide because of their political, economic and cultural weight on the planet. Yet, the role of such members is not to induce their points of view to other nations but to be nuclear states, around which others can unite in resolving one or another problem. One cannot deny the fact that globalization in the field of environment is the reality that humanity has right now. The ecological division of the United Nations, a global organization, deals with resolving the major problems like gas emissions and ozone layer for several decades. This organ is able to both shape the public opinion and push those members who are not ready to work for the universal benefit. Thus, for instance, significant efforts have been made in order to reconsider the standards of car manufacturing in terms of their gas emissions and fuel consumption.. As a result, the major players on the world arena agreed on taking measure in this direction and succeeded in adoption of new standards. This example demonstrates how globalization and joint actions of states can solve important problems. The very term “global warming” speaks clearly of the fact that it affects all countries, so the issue should be resolved with joint efforts, and these are just several issues mentioned.
Furthermore, globalization has a significant political value. Many people are afraid that it is able to violate sovereignty and destroy the traditions, which were shaped for centuries. This type of concern was present when European Union was created, which is obviously the brightest example of preplanned political globalization in recent decades. There were a lot of concerns about creating the union, and time demonstrates that some of them were not without reason. Indeed, European Union became a model of global economy, and as a result economy of single countries influences the whole system. Many people were worried when they had to sacrifice national currencies in favor of Euro. Changes are always hard for people to face, even if the promised benefits are alluring. Yet, there is some positive influence too, and it is especially inspiring when one deals with crossing the borders between countries without obtaining visas. This opportunity looks fantastic when one speaks about travelling, and as a positive outcome boost of European tourism should be mentioned. Taking into account the fact that many of European countries are very small in territory, this gave them an opportunity of additional economic benefits. Indeed, one can easily imagine now having breakfast in France, than having lunch in Switzerland and having a drink of hot chocolate somewhere in Belgium in the evening. Without globalization, it would be impossible to imagine this happening.
Speaking about the political influence of globalization at the example of European Union, it should be mentioned that such global organizations contribute to the idea of equality between countries. Thus, no matter how small or big the country is, what its economic position in relation to others is, it has the same voice to decide as the rest of the members. In this respect, globalization provides another opportunity for developing democracy on a global level. It is obvious that different countries are not on the same page on this question, as well as they are not on the same page economically, religiously, etc. Yet, speaking of global democracy, it is an opportunity to exchange best practices between the countries and a chance for more advanced countries to share their mentality and values with those who are behind. So, being part of global community is a continuous learning process no matter which sphere is being discussed. Besides, it would be true to say that concerns about sovereignty interruption and destroying cultural identities have not come true. In fact, cultural exchange does not make a person forget who they are but, on the contrary, to realize it in a deeper way. Globalization reinforces identity but it also creates an opportunity for developing more tolerance and open-mindedness because of being exposed to new cultural experiences. In terms of cultural globalization, it should be noted that although this seems to have become visible only in recent decades, this is a much older phenomenon: “cultural globalization did not start with the worldwide dissemination of rock 'n' roll, Coca-Cola, or football. As noted in Chapter 2, expansive civilizational exchanges are much older than modernity." (Steger 69)
Advantages of globalization discussed, it is also worth saying that the process overall is quite controversial and has a lot of negative points too. First of all, it would be fair to accept the idea that economic globalization has failed to be as beneficial and equal for all member as it was supposed to be theoretically. Returning to the example of European Union, it is obvious that the process of economic integration is quite painful. Indeed, taking countries like Greece as an example who had serious economic crisis because of international debt increase, it became visible that the closer is the integration, the more vulnerable is the whole system to the issues of its individual members. This situation is both a cause and a consequence of the issues inside EU because all countries are too different in their economic development, so not every of them could cope with severe economic standards dictated by European Union. Another problem that globalization caused, for EU in particular, is the increase of unemployment level. In order to be competitive, manufacturers need to decrease their costs spend on production, so cheaper working labor is a solution. Because of economic globalization, it became possible to transfer manufacturing from one country to another. Naturally, developing countries can offer a lower price of human resources, so Europeans cannot win this competition. On the one hand, this can be an advantage for developing countries and their population, which received numerous working places as a result of outsourcing. At the same time, ecology is leveling out because previously all production was concentrated in the area of developed countries, which is not the case any longer. At the same time, this situation can lead to economic stagnation in Europe and does not particularly increase living standards in developing countries because no one is going to raise their salaries, so they are still below the poverty safe mark.
Even though not all businesses have turned to outsourcing by now, there is always a risk for European or American employers to do so. And if in case of the United States this outsourcing can be internal, that is immigrants are employed for lower wages, this can be outsourcing to Asia in case of European countries. So, even though many Europeans still have jobs, they do not feel safe any longer, which results in the overall tension and dissatisfaction, which can cause social and psychological issues at the level of the whole society. At the same time, when speaking about outsourcing, it is not the local businesses that thrive at the expense of globalization but those from developed countries who just come to the market. Money is taken out of these countries as a result more readily than invested, and many local businesses cannot just compete with transnational corporations. Because a product manufacturing is transferred to another country, there is a risk of quality worsening for this product because both labor conditions and standards of quality can be different in another country.
Some experts think that globalization can have negative effect on health situation on the planet. So, it has been noticed that exotic or not typical diseases have been spreading faster in recent decades due to global communication. People tend to travel from one country to another one uncontrollably, so certain types of infections are at higher risks of being transmitted. Thus, AIDS is known to have been originated from African countries but it impossible to localize this disease as well as any other at the moment. Besides, cases of diseases have been known, which happened because of uncontrollable food trade between the countries. It is a known fact that a person has a more significant immunity to local foods than to exotic ones. As a result, the risk can be higher of bad health influences in cases when products are imported.
Apparently, one cannot speak about the drawbacks of globalization without mentioning the major concern of antiglobalists who believe that wealthier countries live like parasites at the expense of poorer countries and that globalization contributes to worsening the situation. There is a theory of the so-called “golden billion” which refers to the population of developed countries such as the United States, Canada, European Union and several others. They comprise about one billion people overall in opposition to several billion in developing countries. This wealthier part of the world is believed to consume the majority of goods and services, as well as the majority of natural resources. In case at least half of world’s population consumed at the same level, the planet would be at the brink of disaster. Experts confirm that globalization reinforces the trend of inequality: "The richest of nations are continuing to increase in wealth while the poorest nations are continuing to get poorer . It has been found that 20% of the world's richest population control 86% of world gross domestic product and 82% of world exports, while the world's poorest 20% consume, 1.3% (Herriott and Scott-Jackson, 2002)." (Bishop, Reinke, and Adams)
Transnational corporations, though many of them are located in developing countries, especially in Asia, serve the interest of this “golden billion” in the first place. Antiglobalists call people of developed countries to reconsider their position on the planet and their needs of consumption. Indeed, consumerism is believed to be one of the major trends of recent decades in the West, which is satisfied at the expense of the third world countries and natural resources. "The anti-globalization side argues the lowest cost provider does not mean more income equality for people of that country as Researcher Kaplinsky (2001) examines the current state of China and India and believes the increased participation has not only hurt the incomes of the unskilled worker but also semi-skilled and skilled workers." (Bishop, Reinke, and Adams)
Another aspect of globalization, which lies in the cultural and religious dimension, deals with the idea that globalization of the world is related to its westernization. This means that the values of the west are transmitted to local cultures, which were different in its nature. Many people, especially younger ones, are ready to accept these influences and consider them if not accept them. Yet, in many countries, especially Islamic ones there are forces which are not please with globalization as the process that breaks in their traditional way of life, which they have led for centuries. More radical forces do not just express discontent peacefully but are ready to defend their values actively with arms: "the important recognition that the colonizing tendencies of McWorld provoke cultural and political resistance in the form of ‘Jihad’ – the parochial impulse to reject and repel the homogenizing forces of the West wherever they can be found." (Steger 73) Terrorism is in fact the most extreme form of protest against globalization, and the events of the 9/11 would clearly have not happened in a non-globalized world and they would have not made sense at all. The most dangerous aspect about this is that terrorism has become global too, so it is harder for states now to track and prevent it. Besides, the mission of terrorists is now to affect not some local targets but to threaten the whole global community, which became easier with the flow of information. Hence, there are serious concerns whether it is enough having local police and secret services, or global ones should be created. Anyway, it is obvious that organizations of the type cooperate very closely at the transnational level, because otherwise it would be impossible to deal with global crime.
In conclusion, it should be noted that globalization is a complex process that involves several dimensions: economic, political, cultural, environmental and others. It would be wrong to state that globalization is either positive or negative, because its effects are manifold. Among negative aspects one can mention economic instability because of increasing interdependence of countries on each other’s economy. Besides, antiglobalists believe that exploitation of poorer countries by wealthier ones is immoral and leads to increase of the breach between the countries of the west and of the third world. Risk of unemployment as a result of outsourcing is yet the negative outcome that Europeans and Americans face, so there are negative effects for developed countries too. Global crime and terrorism are among the most serious threats, which are reinforced by globalization. However, there are several significant advantages too. First of all, joints efforts can be taken on many global issues, which individual countries cannot solve independently. Among them are AIDS, environmental problems, peace making operations, which are carried out by organizations like the United Nations. Besides, there is a unique opportunity of cultural exchange and free traveling, which does not threaten to blur people’s identities but on the contrary, it helps people learning more about who they are and how they correlate with other cultures.