Are we heading towards a global society?
So far, global integration has brought many benefits, for example the international division of labour and dynamic benefits (such as the economies of scale, and the “rapid spread of innovations from one country to another” (Soros, 1995)). Also, non-economic benefits have arisen, such as the freedom of choice, which is related with the international movement of people, money and goods. Another non-economical advantage is the “freedom of thought associated with the international movement of ideas” (Soros, 1995).
However, Soros (1995) notes that international economist Dani Rodrik believed that so far globalisation and the movement towards a global society has increased the demands on the state to “provide social insurance whilst inducing its ability to do so” (Soros, 1995). Soros (1995) continues to mention that if these “social services are cut too far, while instability is on the rise, popular resentment could lead to a new wave of protectionism both in the United States and Europe especially if (or when) the current boom is followed by a bust of some severity” (Soros, 1995).
This in turn could actually lead to a regression of a global society, similar to the breakdown of global capitalism in the 1930s. Obviously we cannot head towards a global society if it lags behind a global economy. Every society needs “shared values to hold it together” (Soros, 1995). Societies need institutions to “serve such social goals as political freedom and social justice” (Soros, 1995). These unfortunately are only present in individual countries, not globally. Until this opening between the global society and the global economy closes, Soros believes that we will not progress to a global society.
If we were to adopt a global society, there would have to be unified values and practices. The world contains many different religions, traditions and customs, so how would we decide a shared value to unify them? Soros (1995) notes that Karl Popper believed that a complete global unification or society is actually beyond our reach. Therefore, it must be the next best thing, a “form of social organisation that falls short of perfection but holds itself open to improvement” (Soros, 1995). This ideology of a global society is often “explicitly rejected” (Soros, 1995).
Hence the ground for this global society is the “celebration of diversity” (Soros, 1995). The democracy of the West is not the only form a global society could adopt. Surely if there is to be a global unity, all culture and societies, as mentioned previously, should be considered? If we are heading towards a global society, we need to “balance the needs of the local with the global, maintaining a local environment that fosters community and unity” (1). It is considered to be crucial to have a global society, as there is a high accessibility to weapons of mass destruction, which could easily destroy society.
As mentioned previously, there are many factors causing us to head to a global society. The mass media plays a crucial role, as we can view what is going on around the world at any one time. However, the Internet has perhaps brought the world even closer together, as you can have instant communication with anybody else in the world with a computer and Internet connection. The global economics is persuading the world to become more unified, as national companies have merged into transnational or multinational corporations (TNCs and MNCs, respectively).
This pulls the world closer together, for example you can buy Coca Cola nearly anywhere in the world, though it was once available only in the United States of America. Economics seems to heavily affect the rate in which societies become closer, as the “majority of markets are becoming more market driven” (1), which in turn reflects the desire for a country to have strong economic wealth. The TNCs “thrive on markets where there are no barriers” (1), and “one of the ways to have theses barriers removed is to make the societies themselves believe that there is no need for the barriers to exist” (1).
We are certainly heading for a global society, as there are countries and nation states that believe that it a positive move, for reasons mentioned earlier. For example with the creation of the European Union (EU) came the production of the Euro, a single currency that replaces each of the countries existing currency. Also there was the European Court of Justice and the European Parliament created, which has “jurisdiction over most matters of state and security” (1). Citizens of the EU can move freely between the member states, which are a key step towards a global society, as it represents the ideology of a homogenised, free society.
Furthermore, the EU will have it’s own flag and celebration day, unifying the member states. The term ‘member states’ is key as it replaces the term ‘countries, which separates different societies and cultures. One of the problems with heading towards a global society is the obstruction of hypernationalist states, for example the United States of America and on a higher level, Palestine. These populations have a pure love and devotion to their country, and do not want it to be altered, or ruled differently.
This creates a problem on globalisation, as hypernationalism does not have a “viewpoint that allows for the inclusion of other societies” (1). Militancy among these countries can sometimes see the need to “eliminate any vestiges” (1) from others, who practice their “sphere of violence” (1). We may well be heading towards a global society, but it will not reach the point of complete globalisation. This is because Western and other developed countries, such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom monopolise the market.
The TNCs therefore exploit raw materials and agricultural resources in lesser-developed countries, where these are far cheaper. This exploitation results in the employees working in low paid and dire conditions. Governments of these countries are however keen for the TNCs to invest in them. So much so, that sometimes the governments have to borrow more capital than they receive in income from the TNCs, to attract their investment. Also, TNCs, have no commitment to these countries, and can therefore leave within a month, and then transfer the production to a cheaper location.
Even though the lesser-developed countries are receiving more investment, the countries with the TNCs only get more technologically advanced with the large profits that they are making. Therefore the lesser-developed countries cannot possibly compete with more developed societies; hence, we cannot reach a global society of equality. This essay has tried to address the question ‘are we heading towards a global society’, and therefore has researched different sociologists and economists to try to gain a wider understanding of what implications it may have, and if we are.
Clearly, the concept of globalisation can be traced back through history, as mentioned by Robertson and Wallerstein. By looking at an economist as well, it was possible to see what effect a global society will have on the economy, and as the source (1) suggests, that society and the economy are linked by individuals striving for a strong economy. By looking at transnational corporations, and how they treat the lesser-developed countries and their workforce, it is feasible to see that there can never be a complete ‘global society’, though we can still be heading towards one.
It seems a shame that with all the power and economic strength that the West has, it cannot develop lesser-developed countries to the same standard that it has, though with the inherent greed of society could it ever have been possible?
References (1) The Global Society, www. essaybank. co. uk Axford, B (1995) The Global System Economics, Politics and Culture Polity Press, Cambridge Jameson, F Globalisation and Political Strategy www. northampton. ac. uk/ass/nws/postmodernity/jameson_global. pdf Khor, M (2001) Rethinking Globalisation Zed Books Ltd, London.
Liebeck, H and Pollard, E (eds. ) (1995) The Oxford English Mindictionary Clarendon Press, Oxford Nettl, J and Robertson, R (1968) as cited in Waters, M (1995) Globalisation Routledge, London Robertson, R (1992) as cited in Waters, M (1995) Globalization Routledge, London Santer, J (1998) Towards A More Coherent Global Economic Order Biddles Ltd, Guildford Soros, G (1995) The Capitalist Threat www. theatlantic. com/issues/98/jan/opensoc. htm Wallerstein, I (1974) as cited in Waters, M (1995) Globalisation Routledge, London Waters, M (1995) Globalisation Routledge, London.