Outline evidence for the existence of a global society

 

International peace petitions were ‘e’-mailed around the world and the largest peace marches the world has seen were co-ordinated by using the technology of the global communications network. On 15 Feb 2003 over 30 million people of all ages demonstrated in over 600 cities worldwide against the war in Iraq. 16 This worldwide protest was co-ordinated with the use of websites such as ‘Stop the war around the world’ and ‘Media workers against war,’ the latter describes itself as ‘the best global source on the web for anti-war news, views and updates on the international peace movement. ’17.

There is considerable evidence therefore, that many forces of globalisation such as trade, international organisations, the media and communications networks can be utilised to bring about and sustain peace. However, many of the same forces such as trade and the media can also cause international tension and it is understandable that some sociologists do not agree that a global society facilitates a more peaceful and unified world. Clifford Geertz considers that, although the world is growing more global, it is also becoming more divided, and even if more interconnected, it is becoming more intricately partitioned.

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He states that ‘whatever it is that defines identity in borderless capitalism and the global village it is not deep going agreements on deep going matters but something more like the recurrence of familiar divisions, persisting arguments and standing threats. ’18 This pessimistic view is perhaps justified when one considers some of the negative impacts of globalisation and the tensions they have created. There is unambiguous evidence to indicate that there is greater inequality across and within countries.

The gap in per capita income between rich and developing countries has widened, exacerbated by increased foreign trade and investment. The existing system of international trade is unfair, resulting in the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer and will inevitably be a source of international tension. ‘A link between globalisation and increasing inequality is already acknowledged by the UN. ’19 Economic globalisation and trade liberalisation have concentrated power into a few large multinational or transnational corporations (TNCs), by creating conditions that do not allow small businesses to compete in the global economy.

As a result many small farmers have been driven off their land by the ruthless power of TNCs. The unfairness of international trade rules, made by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has aroused huge public concern and protest because of the way that international trade agreements are widening the gap between rich and poor countries. The Trade Justice Movement organised the largest lobby of parliament in June 2002. Poverty is a major cause of conflict and civil unrest, and war torn countries such as Sierra Leone, Somalia and Burundi are among the worlds hungriest.

The supply of food is an essential global issue. Poverty and famine in developing countries can cause a flow of refugees and economic migrants, which creates pressure and tensions as they move, sometimes illegally, between the richer countries. It is not surprising that resentment has grown towards the rich western nations, in particular America who dominates the WTO, whose rules put profit and loss before human rights, morality and the environment.

The attack on the World Trade Centre on September 11th 2001 showed that it is a mistake ‘to suppose that a government can promote and participate in a global economy and at the same time act exclusively in its own interest by abrogating its international treaties and standing apart from international co-operation on moral issues. ’20 The horrors of September 11th sadly illustrate too that terrorism, a current major concern and cause of tension throughout the world, is made possible by the network of communication and transport so important to a global society.

Terrorism has become a major threat to international peace, spreading fear and instability. Many terrorist groups operate in an international dimension in order to obtain a supply of weapons, places to hide and financial support. Important aspects of global society such as air travel, the Internet and the economy can be both used and targeted by terrorist groups. Terrorism is feared to become a greater strategic threat if terrorists acquire the ability to build and use weapons of mass destruction. ‘They may find this easier to do as globalisation erodes the distinction between state and non-state actors. ’21

Environmental problems such as climate change, acid rain, destruction of rainforests, dwindling natural resources, air pollution, pollution from consumer waste, pesticide poisoning are global problems created by and affecting the whole of global society. They will increasingly exacerbate international tension unless there is greater international co-operation. Environmental degradation, like armed conflict, can be seen as a failure of global society. They both share some common causes, which include globalisation of the economy, excessive consumption in rich countries, poverty in the developing world and a lack of international co-operation.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is one of few international institutions addressing environmental problems. ‘Like many other international bodies UNEP has been marred by conflict, national interests and inflammatory rhetoric. ’22 Countries such as Britain and Poland have refused to agree to protocol to cut sulphur dioxide emissions which are carried by westerly winds to fall as acid rain in other countries. Nations were outraged when America refused to sign a treaty in 1991 protecting Antarctica from oil drilling and coal mining.

Also ‘tens of thousands of angry citizens from all over the world flooded the White House with ‘e’ mails to protest over America’s climb down on the UN climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol. ’23 This is an example of global tension created by the influence of TNCs, car giants Ford and Chrysler, on American government. The international political will to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is currently lacking, although people are already suffering from increased flooding and hurricanes, due to climate change. It is possible that future wars will be fought over water.

The transnational corporations have recently identified water as another natural resource to be exploited for profit and to make it a private commodity to be sold and traded on the open market. This is immoral and likely to arouse conflict especially ‘as 31 countries with a collective population of half a billion people are experiencing chronic water shortages. ’24 Oil is one of the most important resources to the global economy and has become a currency of power. International tension is inevitable if access to oil is threatened. Conflict can occur between oil producing countries over export prices and levels of production.

The revenue from oil in developing countries is sometimes used to finance war. ‘Civil wars in Angola and Sierra Leone have been fought on the back of diamond and oil interests. ’25 Some believe that the recent invasion of Iraq was motivated by America’s wish to control Iraq’s oil supplies. Another negative symptom of global society has been the rise in transnational organised crime which undoubtedly causes international tension, especially when it involves illegal arms dealing and drug smuggling. It can be concluded that many agents of globalisation can facilitate peace because they encourage an internationalisation of co-operation.

Simultaneously, the same agents can cause an internationalisation of conflict. Globalisation paradoxically integrates and fragments society. The dynamics of this process is termed ‘fragmegration. ‘ It highlights the extent to which ‘the global system is so disaggregated that it lacks overall patterns, and instead is marked by various structures of systemic co-operation and sub systemic conflict in different regions, countries and issue areas. ’26 This is possibly because the development of a global society has been an uneven and unequal process, and many people in the developing world are excluded.

The development of a fully integrated global society therefore requires a new politics of global responsibility. It can offer ‘a remarkable opportunity to replace the politics of military defence and deterrence with a politics of security based on international co-operation and addressing global inequalities’27.

Bibliography Anderson, Mary. How Aid Can Support Peace – or War, Colorado, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. 1999. pp. 145-7. Crocker, Chester. Et al. Turbulent Peace: The Challenges of Managing International Conflict, Washington, The United States Institute of Peace, 2001, pp.6-95, 785-99. Donnellan, Craig. Issues, Vol. 55, Globalisation, Cambridge, Independence Educational Publishers, 2002, pp. 28-36.

Ellwood Wayne. No-Nonsense Guide to Globalization, Oxford, New Internationalist Publications, 2002. p8-123. Evans, Graham. The Penguin Dictionary of International Relations, London, Penguin Books, 1998, pp. 270-1. Guillen, M. Is Globalization Civilizing, Destructive or Feeble? A Critique of Five Key Debates in the Social Science Literature, Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 27, 2001. Hall, S. Et al. Modernity and Its Futures, Polity Press, 1992, pp.62-116.

Hertz, Noreena, The Silent Takeover: Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy, London, Arrow Books, 2001, pp. 17-79, 200-35. Lipschutz, Ronnie. Reconstructing World Politics: The Emergence of Global Society, pp. 101-21. Madeley, John. Hungry for Trade: How the Poor Pay for Free Trade, London, Zed Books, 2001, pp. 25-41. Reychler, Luc. ; T. Paffenholz, Peacebuilding: A Field Guide, Colorado, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. 2001, pp301-311. Roddick, Anita. Globalization: Take It Personally: How Globalization Affects You and Powerful Ways to Challenge It.

London, Zed Books, 2001, pp. 166-235. Rosenau, James. Along the Domestic-Foreign Frontier: Exploring Governance in a Turbulent World, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 25-117. Schumacher, E. F. An Economics of Peace, Massachusetts, E. F. Schumacher Society, 2001, pp. 15-21. Segal, Gerald. The World Affairs Companion: The Essential One Volume Guide to Global Issues, London, Simon ; Schuster Limited, 1991, pp. 70-84. Shaw, Martin. Global Society and International Relations, Oxford, Polity Press, 1994, pp. 3-55, 141-89.

Websites http://www. stopwar. org. ukStop The War Coalition http://www. wtoaction. org The Common Front on the WTO. http://www. mwaw. org Media Workers Against War 1 Shaw, M. Global Society and International Relations, Oxford, Polity Press, 1994, p. 17. 2 Ibid, 19. 3 Greenfield, G. The Success of Being Dangerous: Resisting Free Trade and Investment Regimes. http://www. wtoaction. org/greenfield5. phtml 4 Lipschutz, R. Reconstructing World Politics: The Emergence of Global Society, p. 116. 5 Ellwood, W. The No-Nonsense Guide to Globalization, Oxford, New Internationalist Publications, 2002, p. 53. 6 Hall, S.et al, Modernity and Its Futures, Polity Press, 1992, p. 105. 7 Lipschutz, R. Reconstructing World Politics:

The Emergence of Global Society, p. 115. 8 Evans, G, ; J. Newnham, The Penguin Dictionary of International Relations, London, Penguin Books, 1998, p. 270. 9 Hall, S. et al, Modernity and Its Futures, Ch. 2, McGrew, A. A Global Society? Polity Press, 1992, p. 105. 10 Lipschutz, R. Reconstructing World Politics: The Emergence of Global Society, p. 105 11 Anderson, M. How Aid Can Support Peace – Or War, Colorado, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. 1999, p. 146. 12 Chester, A. et al.

Turbulent Peace: The Challenges of Managing International Conflict, Washington, The United States Institute of Peace, 2001, p. 797. 13 Hertz, N. The Silent Takeover: Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy, London, Arrow Books, 2001, p. 214. 14 Reychler, L. ; T. Paffenholz, Peace-Building: A Field Guide, Colorado, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. 2001, p. 301. 15 Ibid, p. 306. 16 http://wwwstopwar. org. uk 17 http://www. mwaw. org 18 Guillen, M. Is Globalization Civilizing, Destructive or Feeble? A Critique of Five Key Debates in the Social Science Literature, Annual Review of Sociology, Vol.

27, 2001, p. 253. 19 Donnellan, C. Issues, Vol. 55. Globalisation, Cambridge, Independence Educational Publishers, 2002, p. 29. 20 Berry, W. Thoughts in the Presence of Fear, An Economics of Peace, Massachusetts, E. F. Schumacher Society, 2001, p. 18. 21 Chester, A. et al. Turbulent Peace: The Challenges of Managing International Conflict, Washington, The United States Institute of Peace, 2001, p. 88. 22 Segal, G. The World Affairs Companion: The Essential One Volume Guide to Global Issues, London, Simon ; Schuster Limited, 1991, p. 70. 23 Roddick, A.

Globalization: Take It Personally: How Globalization Affects You and Powerful Ways to Challenge It. London, Harper Collins, 2001, p. 175. 24 Madeley, J. Hungry for Trade: How the Poor Pay for Free Trade, London, Zed Books, 2001, p. 38. 25 Hertz, N. The Silent Takeover: Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy, London, Arrow Books, 2001, p. 215. 26 Rosenau, J. Along the Domestic-Foreign Frontier: Exploring Governance in a Turbulent World, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 38. 27 Shaw, M. Global Society and International Relations, Oxford, Polity Press, 1994, p. 155.

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