M Ali Siddiqi analyses the impending future of the globe coming together
Anticipating Future Of Globalistion – The phenomenon of globalisation was there to happen and was something that evolution of human evolution carried in its wake. Somehow it still evoked surprised reaction even from the circles widely acknowledged to be cerebral giving rise to interpretations that presented the process as something unique though it certainly was not. The process was inherently active in content and mushrooming in purpose and it was not possible to avoid it taking place. The process however soon got entangled in controversies and gradually transformed into an issue that not only became confrontational and began to effect a polarisation within the global arena. The affluent global north felt the phenomenon of globalisation was impinging upon their achievements both in the fields of civilisation and material progress. Given the many consequences that globalisation might have, one question that is often raised is whether countries can manage its impact. This is especially important to the extent that globalisation has negative consequences. Many types of problems that have been endemic to countries for centuries have taken on a new perspective in a globalised world.
It is very obvious the problems confronting globalisation that were initially of national nature became transnational causing serious worries within the decision-making circles. It was also clear that the ability of countries to realise many of their basic goals has become more and more tied to the actions of other countries with economic prosperity domestically often depending now on international trade and capital movements around the globe. Same is the case with national security from all sorts of threats that naturally depend upon the behaviour of other countries and non-state actors who apparently have gone out of any formal control mechanism. Additionally, environmental conditions rely on the behaviour of other agents globally and public health relies more and more on transnational factors and the behaviour of international agents. It is pointed out in this respect that though countries have always faced such problems but it is just their impact and resolution that has increased their dependence on agents outside the state itself. Whether it is not liked or otherwise the fact is that globalisation is intimately connected to this process as by increasing contacts and interactions among countries and peoples it helps make many issues transnational in character getting out of the range of national.
It is also observed that since governance is largely the domain of nation-states, therefore, it is considered their exclusive preserve to take cognizance of and address these transnational problems. The main concern here is that one country can rarely dictate another’s economic, environmental, security or public health policy and as a result dealing with transnational problems what is required is coordination of policies that are taken as the best way forward. It is pointed out in this respect that cooperation where countries coordinate their policies to arrive at mutually preferable outcomes may be essential and in this respect globalisation may facilitate cooperation as it may make the costs of failing to cooperate so high that countries are more willing to try. On the other hand however this situation could also make the stakes of cooperation much higher and thus render it less likely for countries. International institutions may be one way to address these concerns and rightfully the globalised era has witnessed that such institutions are essential for dealing with transnational problems. Quite obviously countries alone cannot successfully deal with them as this activity requires changes in the behaviour of other states.
It has been observed that international institutions that states voluntarily join and comply with may help them to a great extent as such institutions may help states realise cooperative outcomes and additionally they may provide transparency and lower transaction costs for negotiating solutions to transnational issues. Moreover, they may embody global norms and practices that allow states to identify focal points for cooperation and also to help them enforce compliance with international norms and cooperative agreements. Needless to mention that though there are the potential benefits of global institutions but they may have costs as well. It is also acknowledged that not all international institutions function adequately and some may have serious internal defects that cause them to operate ineffectively whereas others are beset with internal divisions. Some are dominated by one or two states that coerce others to adopt their preferred norms and practices even if these are not very beneficial for the others. In this scenario international institutions cannot be seen as a costless and efficient solution to all transnational problems although many of them have shown some ability either to prevent transnational problems for worsening or to allow states to cooperate in order to better manage problems in a globalised world.
It is also pointed out that there is now a palpable concern exhibited about the future prospects of globalisation. Though it is often stated that little chance exists that the increasing contact and interactions among peoples and countries can be reversed but skeptics abound. Actually it is a firm view that the current technological progress may increase globalisation but on the other hand the more cyclical view suggests that globalisation comes and goes in waves depending on political, economic and social reactions. It is conceded that globalisation may have seen its heyday and it is becoming obvious by the day that it is now countering a backlash against the pressure exerted by increasing contacts and interactions among peoples and states. It is often held that the economic and financial crisis of 2008 to 2009 may be a prelude to this type of backlash. In this backdrop it is feared that governments can respond in ways that curtail or reverse globalisation and that has already started to happen. It is now visible that developed countries have taken firm steps to protect their economies, close their borders, end participation in international institutions and take other steps that seal them off from the rest of the world. The question is what would be the costs and benefits of such a course of action and would governments be able to achieve any kind of meaningful autonomy or autarchy, given the technologies in use and public expectations about their connections to the rest of the world.
The issue related to reversing globalisation has assumed crucial import and it is pointed out whether globalisation can be slowed down or managed in ways that are better for all concerned. This issue has given rise to multifarious debates about the matter that pertains to the important matters such as technological change, international political hegemony and global normative convergence. Resultantly, globalisation’s effects are viewed in even greater intensity and breadth and it is widely asked whether globalisation has affected economic growth rates, poverty, inequality, democracy, conflict, state capacity, policy and institutional convergence, cultural diversity, volatility and the diffusion of crises and balance of power between capital and labour. However the major difficulty in this respect is any lack of agreement on the nature of its effects and this is worrisome prospect. While some rate globalisation’s impact as negative but many consider it to be highly positive and most relevant. The jury is out and only time would tell how future of globalisation would then shape up. The Weekender
M Ali Siddiqi is a writer who contributes to leading