|Photo Credit:Leah Hazard.|
The term ‘Globalization' has become skewed from its original meaning. In essence, it means the increasingly global scope of everything from travel to trade. In describing this globalizing trend, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan states that, "Arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity." Annan is claiming that the power to globalize, whether for humanitarian or corporate reasons, is such that no one and nothing can resist the urge to grow and learn. He is, in fact, describing universal and human nature.
The universal forces of attraction, or gravity, cause any body with inherent mass to both attract and be attracted by other bodies with inherent mass, with the result that the smaller ones are drawn toward or are engulfed by the larger ones. Annan's comparison of these forces to those of globalization creates a very clear image of regional and national affairs gravitating toward or becoming international ones. He is referring to the corporate takeover of one company by another or the merging of several to become a conglomerate. He is referring to an airplane assembly line using parts made from 57 different companies in as many countries. He is referring to the capacity to engage in overseas warfare. He is referring to the mass relocation of people, whether as refugees, migrant workers, or permanent residents. And he is referring to ever-adapting political policy which allows, even encourages all of this to take place. By insinuating that the universal forces of attraction describe perfectly the globalizing world, Annan is painting a picture of growth and expansion from small to large, from regional to international.
By insinuating that the universal forces of attraction describe perfectly the globalizing world, Annan is painting a picture of growth and expansion from small to large, from regional to international.
By comparing globalization to gravity not only is Annan revealing that a globalizing world is one in which everything gravitates from small to large. He is also indicating that this is a completely natural and never-ending process. This is the context in which Annan perceives man's past, present, and future, a context in which growth and expansion are not necessarily a conscious goal, rather a natural source of progress. Ultimately, Annan is stating that globalization is an intrinsic part of human nature.
He was very careful when saying these words, however, to not apply them strictly to a framework of war, or of capitalist expansion, or of anthropological study, or of travel. In effect, then , Annan has attached no negative or positive connotations to his use of the term ‘Globalization.' By not weighing his comparison to one side or the other, the consequences of a completely natural tendency toward growth and expansion must be determined by the reader or listener. This leeway has led me to the following conclusions about the process we call ‘Globalization.'
Whereas some industries contribute mostly to the positive effects of globalization, like humanitarian work and tourism, by creating a greater understanding of what it means to live in a globalized society, many other global industries and organizations cannot be spoken of so highly. This disparity is another source of comparison between gravity and globalization: natural laws have always been manipulated or even broken to create advantage of a select few. For example, governments have long sponsored programmes to launch shuttles upwards from Earth into space. Just so, man has also created organizations to harness the power of globalization and tip the scales of progress in favour of one side over another. Such organizations as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), even the United Nations (UN) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were created as a natural evolution to reflect increasingly globalized affairs, and have since been remodelled to suit the needs of those who created them, with few exceptions. All of these organizations were designed to bring economic prosperity to all regions of the globe. In a very short time span, however, each of these organizations have pursued avenues leading only to selective growth for a handful of people.
But it is also obvious that the power has been manipulated and yoked by the few to the demise of the many.
For example, the IMF promises development aid in the forms of loans to economically struggling countries. But the amounts of these loans are often determined by the IMF along with a fixed interest rate, resulting in insurmountable debt and massive inflation, and ultimately even deeper poverty. The WTO claims that it facilitates greater trade between First and Third World countries. In actuality, it places production standards so high that Third World countries are often rendered incapable of exporting while still bound to import as agreed, with obvious economic results. The UN and NATO were founded on admirable statutes, claiming they will come to the aid of those who cannot help themselves. It is true that both NATO the UN have contributed to many long standoffs and battles throughout the world. The deeper truth, however, is that both have been selective about which battles it fights. It seems that troops are only deployed to places of economic or political interest. In all of these examples, the natural trend toward growth and expansion are obvious in terms of the global scope of each organization. But it is also obvious that the power has been manipulated and yoked by the few to the demise of the many.
It is clear, then, that Annan's statement is one purely of observation and carries no judgement or guidance. Annan's comparison creates such imagery as to fully understand the nature of globalization, while leaving the consequences open to interpretation by the reader or listener, with the ultimate effect of actually emphasizing the need for change. In such subtlety as only Kofi Annan could employ, one sentence has lead us to the conclusion that, though growth and expansion must happen, it must also be protected and so too must all those affected by it. Annan is imploring the citizens of the world to act as guardians of this unstoppable, never-ending, irreversible process called Globalization; he is beseeching each of us to ensure the continued security, safety, existence even, of everything touched by the trend to gravitate toward a global society.
Contributed by Bethney Ross of new Westminster, British Columbia. Bethney is a graduate of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, with a Major in Languages and Linguistics and a Minor in Political Studies, though currently enrolled at the Canadian Tourism College in Surrey, British Columbia in a certificate program in Travel and Tourism Management.
To read the Global Envision essays that received an honorable mention, see the contribution from Amanda Osborne of the University of Missouri-Kansas. To read the first place essay for Fall 2007, see William Bruns' contribution from Seattle Central Community College.
Return to top