Ideologies and Globalization


The subjective framework of globalization primarily includes knowledge and ideology. Indeed, the power of globalization orients the development of dominant knowledge. And knowledge about globalization is, in turn, represented as ideology which is a way of interpreting the world and for contemplating strategies of action. As many contemporary scholars suggested, there are ways in which some exemplar ideological works frame agendas for globalization and alter globalization.
The first one is the centrist neoliberal thinking whichis first reflected in the 2000 World Bank Policy Research Report titled “Globalization, Growth, and Poverty: Building an Inclusive World Economy”, and Nicholas Stern, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President at the bank was known as its chief proponent. In this study, the point of departure is that globalization corresponds to increasing integration of economies and societies throughout the world. The main contention is that in most cases, globalization reduces poverty and lessens inequality among countries though, on average, not necessarily within countries. The report emphasizes that globalization produces winners and losers within each society.
The report notes that there is no single model of success, thereby recognizing that the policy agendas must be custom-fitted. Disavowing nationalism and protectionism, the World Bank forthrightly states that, “there are no anti-global victories to report for the postwar Third World. We infer that this is because freer trade stimulates growth in Third World economies”.
On balance, this study signals a shift from the old orthodoxy. Among the important revisions in neoliberal thinking is a frank recognition of persistent marginalization concomitant to globalization, though, for the bank, marginalization is a descriptive statistical category, not a dynamic concept that turns on competing social forces. There is also acknowledgment that the state can provide elements of social protection; it may play an enabling role, as in the world’s two most populous countries, China and India, both of which, in different ways, have sustained large-scale economic growth.
The “Reformist neoliberals” grouptakes issue with centrist ideas and powerful institutions that convey them. These policy intellectuals participate in multiple networks: the lecture circuit, which goes along with quasi-celebrity status; the media industry; venues such as the World Economic Forum (WEF), where they interact with the top members of the corporate and political establishment; and research institutes at some of the world’s highly endowed universities, which afford material support and are largely United States based.
Noteworthy, however, is that a handful of leading economists, technically sophisticated masters of the neoclassical trade though not uniform in their views, such as Joseph Stiglitz, Dani Rodrik, Paul Krugman, and Jeffrey Sachs, have dissented from aspects of orthodox neoliberal globalization. Some of them collaborate in Stiglitz’s Initiative for Policy Dialogue, a global network of social scientists established in 2000. Drawing together select experts from around the world, its mission is to explore economic policy alternatives for developing and transition countries and to improve official decision making on economic issues.
They also published scholarly articles and books by like minded economic experts and leaders. This institution reportedly published in March 2012 a book entitled “Good Growth in Africa: Rethinking Development Strategies” in which our late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi wrote a scholarly article under the title “States and Markets: Neoliberal Limitations and the case for a Developmental State”. As one of the proponent of this group, Meles presented a theoretical criticism of the neo-liberal paradigm prescriptions regarding the role of the state in the economy.
The late Prime Minister Meles argued that the political and economic renaissance of Africa is an issue that continues to preoccupy Africans and non-Africans alike. For this effect, various methods of achieving such a renaissance have been proposed, mostly variations of the dominant neoliberal paradigm of development. For Meles, the neo-liberal paradigm is a dead end incapable of bringing about the African renaissance, and that a fundamental shift in paradigm is required to effect a revival.
Joseph Stiglitz, the former Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at the World Bank, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in economics, and now a professor at Columbia University, offers an insider’s view into core institutions and ideas that drive the globalization agenda. In explaining why globalization does not work for a multitude of people, particularly in the developing world, Stiglitz in his 2002 published book entitled “Globalization and Its Discontents”,constructs a multilevel analysis of globalization that focuses on economic integration, international economic institutions, the interests of the financial and corporate community, state structures, social stratification, values, and the system of capitalism itself.
The “Historical-materialist transformers” ideological group, in marked contrast, has sought to reinterpret the ideas of capitalism and to restructure this globalizing system. The most prominent in this group is William K. Tabb, a professor at the City University of New York who has sought to extend Marxist understanding.
Pointing out that the media shape consciousness and provide ‘an ideological context’ for globalizing dynamics, his analysis nevertheless, and surprisingly, subscribes to some key representations in the public discourse, such as the notions of a ‘global village’ and an ‘anti-globalization campaign’. However, William Tabb, unlike the exemplar authors cited above, offers a vigorous critique of globalizing capitalism, and probes the very parameters within which national and international institutions operate. He holds that neoliberal globalization is chiefly a political phenomenon.
The “Development transformism” group is spearheaded byMartin Khor, who directs the Third World Network, a Malaysian-based NGO that works to understand and influence policy. His 2001 published book “Rethinking Globalization” focuses on the developing countries, many of them small and fragile actors that have experienced a reduction in policy latitude and an erosion of sovereignty and of local ownership in the national economy.
For Khor, globalization is not a totally new process, but one that has accelerated rapidly in the last few decades. He holds that a hallmark of this period is increasing inequalities among and within countries, and these divides are associated with globalizing forces. According to Khor, globalization and the whole complex of ideas associated with the neoliberal framework have contributed powerfully to the vulnerabilities of the South. The mechanisms include loan conditionalities, fluctuations in commodity prices and terms of trade, and the volatility of shortterm capital flows.
In sum, neoliberal globalization may be grasped in terms of its inter-subjective dimensions and transnational networks as they relate to political and material interests. Today, ideological consensus is increasingly contested and weakening. The fissures are widening. For diverse stakeholders, the challenge is to remake globalization into an ideology of emancipationfor the many, not the few. Requisite to this task are not only new ideas but also countervailing power. Indeed, as demonstrated above, there is a substantial emergence of alternative sets of ideas which are very different perspectives on a desirable globalization agenda. Ultimately, this contestation is a question of whose agenda will win out in the political strife. It comes down to a matter of reconciling core ideas and control of the globalization agenda.
Among the competing agendas, common ground exists, at least on one point. The contemporary era is marked by a bundling of neoliberalism and globalization. However, there is disagreement about what inference to draw from this convergence. Some ideologists clearly favor tightening the bundle, whereas others advocate an unbundling of neoliberalism and globalization. Rethinking the debate over ideas thus shifts the globalization discourse from linking to delinking globalization and the neoliberal framework. Sequentially, delinking would be tied to relinking economic reform and social policy.
But this dimension of alter globalization is partial. The goal worth pursuing is to search for new philosophical principles that could help imagine options, guide policy, and inform strategies tailor-made for distinctive contexts. Even if there is no one best way to harness globalization so that it provides for both economic gains and social equity, surely much greater overall vision is still required. The vision would come from not only ideological leaders at the top but also from the base, where civil society is mounting pressure for alter globalization.

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