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About this book

Today the debates on globalization between its evangelists and detractors are still raging. In this concise, balanced and accessible new text, Nick Bisley assesses the nature and extent of globalization, the key debates surrounding it and its impact on and significance for world politics.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
The sense that globalization was everywhere and changing everything appeared to develop as a collective common wisdom in the 1980s and 1990s. Academics, politicians, and business people all seemed susceptible to the beguiling charms of this evidently pervasive and transformative social phenomenon. It is hard to find a university that has not established a centre for the study of globalization or some variation on the theme, nor a government that has not invoked reform in its name. Of course not everyone thought that globalization was an unalloyed Good Thing. The well organised protests at Seattle in 1999, and subsequently in Washington, Quebec and Genoa reflected strong anti-globalization sentiment. Regardless of whether you liked it or detested it, whether you thought it was changing everything or changing nothing, it was extraordinarily hard to avoid.
N. Bisley

1. Parameters of the Globalization Debate

Abstract
In the opening chapter of one of the most influential International Relations (IR) textbooks readers discover that globalization is producing a ‘fundamental shift in the constitution of world politics’ (McGrew,200 5: 38). Its force is so profound, the author asserts,tha t, if we are to make sense of the transformations it is bringing about, we must rethink the very nature of politics itself. From the institutions of government to the most basic duties that we owe to others, all is being transformed by this pervasive social force. Yet in a leading scholarly journal published just months after the textbook,we are told, with no less certainty,th at ‘the “age of globalization“ is over’ (Rosenberg, 2005: 3). The philosophical and sociological arguments about globalization were,it seems,an intellectual optical illusion. The much trumpeted world of global governance has failed tomaterialize, atavistic nationalism is rife,and the actions of the US,Rus sia and China glaringly fly in the face of all the prescriptions of the globalization prophets. Rosenberg argues that the claims made about globalization have been shown to have little to offer the serious scholar of social life.
N. Bisley

2. Globalization Past and Present

Abstract
Those sceptical of the more extravagant claims made about globalization often point out that the level of international trade and investment in the belle epoque of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was at least as high as it is today (e.g. Hirst and Thompson, 1996). Others point out that networks of military, social and economic relations which allow actions in one place to have significant consequences across vast distances, are hardly new (Holton, 1998). Europeans brought their diseases to the New World in the 16th century with catastrophic results. In economic terms, prior to the First World War, Great Britain exported 7& of its gross domestic product (GDP) in capital, a level no state since 1945 has yet achieved (James, 2001: 12). As historians point out, we have seen a lot of the sorts of things we associate with globalization before; indeed they remind us that we tend to forget that things came badly unstuck last time around when openness led on to cataclysmic war in 1914 (e.g. Ferguson, 2005). How new is globalization? To what extent do the levels of integration we have today differ from levels achieved in previous global or universal eras? Questions about novelty are important because they provide some welcome perspective to cool the ardour of the more enthusiastic globalizers, but they are significant in themselves because they force us to think about the nature of the phenomenon as well as its historical trajectory.
N. Bisley

3. Globalization and the State: Leviathan Under Threat?

Abstract
Since globalization first emerged the argument that contemporary economic and political circumstances are undermining the power and efficacy of the state has been never far from sight. As far back as the late 1960s, Charles Kindleberger famously declared that the nation state was ‘just about through as an economic unit’ (Kindleberger, 1969: 207). Unsurprisingly, the proposition that globalization is hollowing out the state has become one of the central arguments in the globalization debate. Footloose capital, global money markets and muscular MNCs are thought to be reducing states to little more than pawns in the game of global capitalism. States are said to have virtually no control over their economies and must follow the dictates and interests of global economic forces. Beyond the economic sphere, it is said, the state is caught in a pincer movement as the power and pervasiveness of international organizations suck political authority and regulatory power up and away from states while ethnic groups, regions and local networks grab what remains for themselves. As borders become ever more porous, this anachronistic institution, so the argument goes, can do little to stem the tide. Given the nature, scale and speed of change it is unsurprising that analysts and scholars might come to the conclusion that a social institution that has its origins in Europe’s 17th century wars of religion is not particularly well suited to deal with the gamut of economic, political and social challenges that human societies face in the 21st century.
N. Bisley

4. States, Markets and a Global Economy

Abstract
The economic dimension of globalization is the site of its most fierce contestation. The high-profile backlash against globalization that led to violent protests in Seattle, Prague and Genoa was fuelled by hostility to its economic aspects. Yet for its supporters, globalization’s appeal lies in its capacity to produce wealth across an ever wider population. For others, globalization’s economic advantages carry substantial risk, as shown by the considerable upswing in the rate and impact of financial crises. These views are united by a belief that globalization has made market forces dominant in the international system. The critic is concerned that markets will further impoverish millions, destroy environmental standards and erode labour conditions; the supporter is enthused by the efficiency gains that will accrue from removing the distortions caused by state interference; and the third is worried that, while markets create wealth, the damage caused by volatility can more than offset these gains. Whether for good or for ill, all share the belief that markets reign supreme under conditions of globalization.
N. Bisley

5. International Institutions, Governance and Globalization

Abstract
There appears to be a growing gap between the political structures of the international system and the processes of the global economy. An important means through which states have sought to close this gap is multilateralism and international institutions. While multilateralism has been around for some time, in recent years it has become central to contemporary diplomacy and international relations (Ruggie, 1993). Multilateralism’s significance derives not only from a belief that multiple mechanisms are more effective at resolving the sorts of transnational diplomatic problems that currently predominate but it is also thought to be necessary for the legitimacy of so much that goes on in the international system. The US-led intervention in Iraq was criticized for a raft of reasons but it was thought by many to be a problem simply because it was not multilateral enough. While there was a thin multinational coalition it was nothing like the number of countries that had supported the US-led response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. If UN approval could have been achieved then America’s position would have been greatly strengthened.
N. Bisley

6. Globalization and the Changing Face of War

Abstract
In the opening years of the 21st century which followed the bloodiest yet in human history, war casts a curious shadow. Out of the carnage and brutality of total war a series of finance, production and trade networks has emerged that has intertwined the economic interests of so many states and societies that many have begun to think that war is on the wane, at least among those that have the good fortune to be part of these networks. For those excluded from these links intrastate ethnic and tribal wars, as well as organized anti-systemic violence, is carrying on as before. In some cases the situation has even worsened as these networks have become more interlinked. Regardless of whether you liked it or detested it, whether you thought it was changing everything or changing nothing, it was extraordinarily hard to avoid.
N. Bisley

7. Identity, Nationalism and Globalization

Abstract
Many argue that globalization is not only transforming how we live, and the institutions which govern us, it is changing who we are. Globalization is destabilizing the traditional cultural systems that forge individual and collective identity and is creating new mechanisms through which individuals find meaning and a sense of belonging in an increasingly complex world. From novel cultural forms to the global spread of McDonald’s, the force of globalization is said to be transforming the means with which we make sense of ourselves and the larger world. The view that globalization is driving a reconstruction of many facets of identity and culture is articulated most directly by those who feel that it is a process of cultural homogenization (e.g. Latouche, 1996). The forces which unify markets and drive political and moral authority away from states are also serving to homogenize culture and identity and draining national and local forms of their meaning and capacity to mobilize popular sentiment. For some, this involves not a new melange or hybrid creation but an overt Americanization of other cultures (see Holton, 1998: 166–72). In the ubiquity of Starbucks, Hollywood movies and the transformation of dietary habits and patterns one sees the forces of a cultural imperialism made more disturbing by the eagerness with which it is embraced. For others, globalization threatens societies by projecting new ideas and practices across borders, destabilizing existing cultural values and institutions.
N. Bisley

8. Still an Anarchical Society?

Abstract
Although much of this book has sought to damp down the enthusiasm of many of the early globalization boosters the argument presented here should not be confused with that of the arch sceptic. Globalization is an important feature of the current international system. From the challenges of terrorism to the dynamism of global financial markets, the influence of globalization can be discerned in almost all fields that shape the character of contemporary world politics. The norms and rules of international politics, as well as the strategies of states, cannot be analyzed without considering the impact of this complex and multifaceted phenomenon. Yet due to precisely this diffuse character, it is extremely difficult to pin down just how its impact is being felt. Globalization matters, on that it is hard to disagree. How much it matters, where and to what extent is a much more complex affair. When one is dealing with something as conceptually slippery as the structure of world politics, then this is doubly so.
N. Bisley
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