Why does one expert think globalization is not in crisis

With the globalization process, markets, societies, and cultures around the world have become closer and more connected. A clear example is a COVID-19 crisis: a virus that appeared in China gave way to a global pandemic because the world is interconnected.

Why does one expert think globalization is not in crisis
How does globalization connect the world and what is it? Image by Mark Leslie from Pixabay

If there were a crisis of globalization there would be a contraction of world trade, of the financial market and a considerable reduction in the volume of business; however, what has been seen is just the opposite, said Isidro Sepúlveda Muñoz, of the National University of Distance Education of Spain.

In the conference "A post-pandemic world. Global geopolitics and nationalism", organized by UNAM's Institute of Social Research (IIS), the expert explained that with the pandemic we have witnessed the globalization of the crisis, not the crisis of globalization, where international solidarity has been conspicuous by its absence.

What we will see in the next decade is the latent struggle between the positions of multilateralism and those of national hegemony. If the former weakens, the conflict between the latter will increase. "Certain scenarios are heating that may result, not in local conflicts, but rather fuses to ignite a more extensive one, even on a continental or global scale," among them, that of the South China Sea, he pointed out.

In some places there have been factory closures; this has led to their relocation, because it is beneficial for companies to produce closer and in different scenarios, without having them concentrated. For example, the outbreak of the third wave of the pandemic in Vietnam led to the closure of industries, such as Nike, which in the last few months stopped producing 30 million pairs of shoes that were to be sold during the Christmas season; due to the demand, they will be produced in other places, such as Mexico.

The next decade will see a latent struggle between multilateralism and national hegemonies.

When we talk about crisis, we must also ask for whom. The paradox is that in the period in which the world has had the worst time, great fortunes have increased, which goes against common sense and ethics. In Latin America, the consequences of the coronavirus are human losses; the definitive closing of the upward economic cycle based on the exportation of raw materials and commodities, as well as the cutback of some markets. Likewise, it shows the weakness of the health system, the growth of poverty, and exclusion in the face of the loss of 15 years of progress, among other aspects.

Commenting on the conference, Henio Hoyo Prohuber, an academic from UNAM's graduate program in Political and Social Sciences and the University of Monterrey, recalled that once the research to develop and produce vaccines against COVID-19 began, it was a matter of national security and who would get them first. It became an issue similar to the moon landing, so much so that Russia called its vaccine Sputnik.

What is globalization and how does it connect the world?

Globalization is the process that has brought markets, societies, and cultures around the world closer together and connected them. The covid-19 crisis is a clear example: a virus that appeared in China gave way to a global pandemic because the world is interconnected. The term was coined by the American economist Theodore Levitt in 1983, but the origin of the phenomenon is unclear. Most believe that globalization began after World War II and that it has developed mainly since 1980. However, some believe that it began in the late 19th century, and even with the first overseas empires, between the 15th and 16th centuries.

In any case, globalization has intensified since the 1980s due to advances in transportation and technology that have facilitated the movement of goods, services, capital, information, and people around the world. The development of commercial aviation, the standardization of shipping containers, and the invention of the internet-connected countries even further. Meanwhile, the neoliberal policies of the late 20th century caused national markets to lower barriers to trade and open up to the outside world. For this reason, globalization is primarily economic, although it also has political, cultural, and technological aspects. Hence, its agents are not only multinational companies and large financial organizations, but also states, cities, and even individuals.

The faces of globalization

Of the four types of globalization - economic, political, cultural, and technological - the most advanced is the first, thanks to liberalized and increasingly international trade. Countries have eliminated barriers such as tariffs and signed trade agreements to integrate economically. At the same time, multinationals are relocating their activities to other countries to save costs, a phenomenon known as offshoring. Economic globalization has been followed by political globalization, with new global organizations and standards, such as the UN, the WHO, and international agreements on the use of nuclear energy.

Cultural globalization, on the other hand, has consisted of increased exchange of values and traditions between countries. For example, the international success of the African song Jerusalem in 2020 or international fashion shows, such as Paris Fashion Week, is the result of cultural globalization. Finally, technological globalization has been added in recent years. More and more countries are using the same technology, and societies are connected through the Internet and social networks. Facebook, for example, has 2.74 billion users, 35% of the world's population.

The world is now one

One of the main consequences of globalization has been the increase in global GDP. Today there is more wealth in the world and, in turn, the extreme poverty rate has fallen by 84% since 1980. This is mainly explained by the rise of emerging economies such as China, whose growth has lifted millions of people out of extreme poverty. However, the increase in world GDP has not translated into greater equality between countries, quite the contrary: globalization also generates inequality. According to a study by the NGO Oxfam Intermón, since the beginning of the century, only 1% of the world's new wealth has gone to the poorest half of the population, while 50% of this new wealth has gone to the richest 1%.

Another consequence of globalization is that the world's economic and geopolitical center is shifting from the West to Asia, and China, along with other countries such as India, is emerging as a counterweight to the hegemony of the United States. As a result, the international community no longer has a single-pole of power, but several.

Criticism and controversy

Globalization, however, also arouses criticism. For the middle and lower classes in developed countries, it is tantamount to losing their jobs in the face of competition from products manufactured in countries with lower wages. This discontent has contributed to the proliferation of anti-establishment parties and movements such as the French National Front or Brexit, a reaction to the negative consequences of globalization.

On the other hand, there is a movement that criticizes the neoliberal character of globalization, considering it an instrument of the United States to export its socioeconomic model and thus preserve its hegemony. Environmental organizations such as Greenpeace and WWF also denounce its environmental impact. According to them, the economic growth it generates also leads to deforestation, unsustainable extraction of natural resources, and increased consumption of fossil fuels, which aggravates global warming.

Sources: El Orden Mundial, UNAM