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Globalization is a term often used in today's modern context. Globalization is a term that has been used frequently in the past ten to fifteen years and cannot be regarded as only an economic phenomenon. The globalization of trade and finance is changing international relationships at several levels of interaction. It is also the case when examining international identity, community, knowledge and the environment. There is very little that cannot be linked with globalization when studying international politics. What this paper will attempt to do is explain globalization with a focus on economic globalization and how the growth of multinational companies has affected state sovereignty. I shall explore the challenges that economic globalization poses to the modern state particularly centered on the issues of power, culture, and sovereignty.
The first part of the paper shall deal with defining and explaining the key terms of this paper. The terms that I shall seek to define includes the term 'globalization' itself and state, power and sovereignty. There is no doubt that it is very important to establish adequate understandings of the above-mentioned terms before discussing the subject.
I shall proceed to address the crux of the subject. I shall start by explaining the general challenges that globalization poses to the state's power, culture and sovereignty. This will be followed by an aspect of globalization specifically economics and how it actually affects the sovereignty of states.
A number of trends and developments have paved the way for globalization, the interrelation of the world's cultures into a global marketplace of trade. On one hand, the beauty of globalization is that it can free people from the locks of geography. On the other hand, it is the western world that primarily leads globalization, making many argue that it is merely an effort by the west to impose its ideology and lifestyle worldwide along with its products and services. I hope that by the end of the paper, I shall be able to come to an appropriate conclusion on globalization as a whole. Does it bring more good than harm as what people think it does?
Definition of terms
Globalization is a broad term that has been used to refer to free movement of people, goods and services and capital between and among countries made possible by the advent in technology information. As a result the world has no doubt turned into a global village fashioned by interconnectedness and interdependence.
There are numerous definitions brought forth to explain what globalization is, however, for the sake of this paper, globalization is thought of as various mechanisms or processes that aim at creating and consolidating a unified world in terms of economy and culture characterized by a complex link of information sharing that is world wide. It is evident that through globalization culture are being exported throughout the world as various societies are compelled to evolve and co-exist with the changes brought about by globalization. It is worth remembering that globalization has impact not only in terms of economy but culture, politics as well as environmentally.
States is a term that has been used synonymous with country. By definition state has been thought of as a self-governing political entity. This means that they are in a position to run their own internal affairs. A state that is capable of handling her affairs by formulating and implementing laws with no external interference is deemed to be sovereign and vice versa.
The concept of sovereignty is usually seen in a three-fold perspective and include; "absolute supremacy over internal affairs within a country's territory, absolute right to govern its citizen as well as freedom from any external interference in the previously mentioned matters" a country or state is deemed to be sovereign and autonomous when it is considered to have the capability of making and implementing laws within its jurisdiction as well as carry on its functions, duties and responsibilities with no external powers or aid. Similarly, it does not acknowledge any higher power or authority above itself. A state can thus be sovereign or not on the basis of the definition provided.
The terms comes from globalization and refers to a situation where there is a global swell of concepts, view, thought and practices of economic neoliberalism that seem to encourage the advantages brought about by free market. The concept of global economy is characterized with production in a global scale where products, services, capital and labor primarily stems from free market, privatization, inflation control, reducing social expenditure, deregulation as well as allowing economy strength to be dictated by transnational corporation and the control of finances to be handled by transnational financial institutions.
Power is a termed coined to refer to the measure of an entity's ability or capabilities to fully or partially control its surrounding as well as the manner with which other entities behave. Power can be seen in a two-fold scenario as being just and evil. However, use of power has been deemed to be endemic to the human race. There are various sources of power which include social influence of tradition, moral persuasion, celebrity, knowledge, expertise, social class among others.
The most popular theory of power is the one brought forth by Thomas Hobbes and it is the one adopted for this assignment. Hobbes held that power is a means by which "present individuals use to obtain some future apparent good". Ideally, power fall into either aggressive or manipulative categories; the formers is where force is used while he later is where persuasion plays a major role in influencing the subjects. Globalization has been seen to influence such means both in the positive and negative direction.
Globalization and state sovereignty
It has been accepted that globalization does has effects in terms of political, cultural, and environmental and economically. The later is the interest of the paper and would be discussed in depth. The free movement of people/labor, capital/finance, goods and services has brought the notion that Foreign Investment has tremendously increased making actors such as multinational organizations to have profound influence on how national authorities bring forth public policies.
The spread of globalization is attributed to the efforts made by states as they are responsible in bringing forth an environment that supported the phenomenon by passing legislations, public policies as well as international treaties such as World Trade Union.
It is true that globalization was not chosen by anybody and neither can anyone avoid it. Despite the fact that state and nations have the choice and right of formulating their own policies towards globalization, they have no capacity and machineries to stop the phenomenon. This thus has profound impact on its power and sovereignty.
As suggested by Twining, the concept of globalization has brought a number of challenges to sovereignty of states and he uses the term, 'black box theories'. On the same line of reasoning, realist such as Krasner Steven are of the opinion that autonomy of states have declined as a result of globalization but do not believe that the concept has an impact on nation states.
Considering one of the three fold of sovereignty which is operating and carrying out their affairs without external influences, the interdependence and interconnectedness brought about by globalization makes this unattainable fully. In the past, countries especially from western and Middle East had very little in common concerning economic interdependence. However, the recent changes have seen to it a country like China being compelled to mend her relation with the western counterparts and vice versa. To be in a position to sell their goods and services, the relationship is vital which has a greater probability of making sovereign states to compromise one of the attributes of autonomy/sovereignty.
A typical example is china in her laws with regards to licensing of foreign insurance companies as well as banks. The dispute was handled by World Trade Organization, it is worth noting that the losing party will be left with no other choice but to comply and in case china losses then it mean they will be forced to rectify how are enforced other wise it may be faced by serious consequences like what happened to Argentina. This is a clear example of external influence meddling with internal affairs of a sovereign state.
It is important to note that although countries such as china will not be forced to change her conduct in regards to accommodating other states or international society business interest, it is only in her interest to take necessary steps to accommodate other and this is only arrived at after compromising on one of the three folds of sovereignty.
Another attribute that comes with sovereignty is the country's ability to fully protect her subjects from any kind of harm. Through free market which is a product of globalization, goods and services have found their way to other countries where the same are not produced or do not meet the demand. There are instances that some goods or products are sold to these countries and without the knowledge of the recipient country, such goods are defective and can lead to serious health problems. This can be exemplified by such products as milk, beef, fish and poultry that have in the recent years caused serious health complications in the Middle East.
On the same line of reasoning, globalization has brought stiff competition and when countries try to impose protectionism by coddling and nurturing infant industries, they are blamed and sidelined in global business. They are left with no option other than changing business as well as other laws to accommodate free market which in the long run has the potential of killing domestic industries as foreign ones thrives.
Similarly, it is a fact that there are a number of multinational corporations that have spread all over the world. In the recent past, despite the fact that the corporation offered employment to the local which is in line with the host government, the top positions are usually held by expatriates especially from the original country where the corporation comes from. This has been possible through a number of corporation's laws that override the interests of the host nation hence negatively impacting on laws and regulation that serve to make the hoist state autonomous. Additionally, there are instances where multinational company have bought some of the factors of production such as land at higher prices leaving the local citizen either landless and squatters. All these generally are reconolization of the entire globe.
From a criminology point of view, just like from the issue of terrorism, there is high risk of crimes which is coupled with limited mechanisms that fosters justice infield of criminology. This has great capabilities of eroding societal belief that autonomous and sovereign states can adequately provide its subjects with adequate security; maintain law and order as well as controlling issue related to crime in its jurisdiction. International criminal organizations that seek to destabilize states security are becoming a threat to security of state. Having in mind that a state is not in a position to offer security to her citizens as well as maintaining order as a result of economic globalization, then the attributes of state sovereignty is stripped and undermined.
It would be irrational to fully blame sovereignty woes facing states on global economy. There are instances that states have rectified their own laws to suit and encourage globalization. Such efforts did limit how such countries could exercise their powers in governing themselves, solving their own issues without external interference as well as not acknowledging any to her authority as being superior to them. This is summarized by Sassen;
"In many ways, the state is involved in this emerging transnational governance system. But it is a state that has itself undergone transformation and participated in legitimating a new doctrine about its role in the economy. Central to this new doctrine is a growing consensus among states to further the growth and strength of the global economy".
Through economic globalization, sovereign states have been deprived the privilege of handling their own internal issues especially with regards to crime, such as drug trafficking, trade in endangered wildlife, weapon of mass destruction development and distribution and more importantly terrorism. For instance, when the united states need to fight terrorism which is the number one security threat in the 21 centaury, it needs to corporate with other countries in order to be in a better position to demolish terrorism network. This comes with a price as the countries involved will definitely not be able to single handedly tackle the problem but join hands with the other. The whole process is complex and works against the principles of sovereignty as it undermines the principle of supremacy in regards to a state's internal affairs within her jurisdictions.
Nonetheless, various scholars content that despite the fact that states have in one way or another lost some concepts of sovereignty as a result of economic globalization, the advantages of the globalization seems to be of paramount significance for the development and growth of such countries. It is apparent that there is no single country that can manage to be in isolation during this era of globalization.
On the same note, just like any other aspect in human lives, economic globalization has brought a number of positive changes in terms of politics and governance, culture, environmentally as well socially. Particularly, with regards to economy, there are a number of jobs that have been created, wider business opportunity, synergy brought as a result of integration in curbing social ills, holding the states responsible and accountable for their action. More importantly, economic globalization has seen to it that sovereignty has been changed and currently it has been redistributed to various stakeholders and actors;
"[Sovereignty] is now located in a multiplicity of institutional arenas: the new emergent transnational private legal regimes, new supranational organizations (such as the WTO and the institutions of the European Union), and the various international human rights codes. All these institutions constrain the autonomy of national states; states operating under the rule of law are caught in a web of obligations they cannot disregard easily"
Western influence on globalization
It is no doubt that there are a number of states that are skeptic about the whole issue of globalization as they assert that it a new way of western world reconolizing the rest of the world. Apparently, globalization trend since its conception seem to have been propelled by the western states that are already developed as compared to others that are developing. The central points of skeptics those who dispute the whole thing are of the opinion that the concept is nothing new it just an ideology and myth, it is a project of the west, it fosters internationalization of economy, states are more stronger than never before, fosters fragmentation and a class of civilization.
Considering that the major proponents and supporters of globalization are western countries such as United States of America among others, through various means such as movies, politics among others to influence others for their own selfish needs. In this manner, skeptics believe that western countries main goal in pushing for globalization is nothing other than to have control of the entire economic, social and environmental as well as political dominance over the other states.
Skeptics hold the opinion that although it has been argued that globalization and its all attributes have negatively impacted on states sovereignty three folds; the notion is wrong as it has indeed strengthen sovereignty of these states. The argument is that states graduates from managing their internal factors but also external affairs. Additionally, it is the state that is bestowed with the responsibility and power controlling, protecting and managing roles of integrations and transnational corporations. According to skeptics, without government intervention, there is no prerequisite for a positive and successful integration. On the same line of reasoning, skeptics are of the opinion that indeed the world is not interdependent and changing from the various segments to form one community but rather the glob has undergone fragmentation due to formation of blocs as a result of regionalization. A typical example of this is the European Union and in Africa numerous regional blocs such as COMESA, ECOWAS among others. Recent proposals that seek to carryout a referendum to make all EU members operate from a similar background attest to this.
Several notable financial crises that of Mexico in 1994 and the one in Asian, Thailand is attributed to the efforts of western countries particularly the United States of America active engagement in deregulation activities. Following the reign of George W. Bush, it is clear that neo-liberalism as well as democratic imperialism, the two major strategies that sought to propel the westernized way of doing things to the entire world in the wake of 2010 failed. This reversed the desire of western states to have power upon the rest of the world. Generally speaking all the influences propelled by western countries in regards to globalization despite the fact that it aims at fostering economic as well other societal well being has hidden agenda nonetheless.
From the review of economic globalization and its effects on state sovereignty, it is established that the later is influenced by the formers. Additionally, globalization not only impact on states sovereignty but also in culture, politics as well as the environment. The reason is that there has been an increased rate of interdependency and interconnectedness that has made the globe turn into a global village. The result is the existence of transnational, multinational institutions that affected state sovereignty. Globalization thus has seen to it that the various attributes of sovereignty are diminished as they are undermined and questioned.
In regards to western influence in respect to globalization, skeptic belief that these countries are at no good but to reconolizing the world in the name of developing a stable economy. Skeptics hold that sovereign state are stronger than ever and are indeed responsible for the successful integration being seen at present. It is no doubt that the hot debate in regards to globalization will still be experienced as year role by and its implication being felt by all and a sundry.