Globalization: A New Form of Colonization After the Second World War, a decolonization process took place – for previously slaved and colonized nations – supposedly ending almost four centuries of slavery and exploitation. It was followed by the end of the cold war and the beginning of a new era: Globalization.
Although there is no exact definition of the word globalization, some experts believe that “the process of globalization not only includes opening up of world trade, development of advanced means of communication, internationalization of financial markets, growing importance of MNC’s, population migrations and more generally increased mobility of persons, goods, capital, data and ideas but also infections, diseases and pollution” (Goyal 1). There are several positive aspects of globalization; these include the exchange of culture, values and beliefs between nations, the openness of border, communication, and circulation between nations.
However, globalization has many negative impacts on developing countries, varying from the cultural, economical, social, environmental, to the political sectors; thus, widening the gap between the developed and under-developed countries. As Philippe Legrain explains it in his article “Cultural Globalization Is Not Americanization”, globalization has some positive impacts on cultures around the world. He states, “Globalization not only increases individual freedom, but also revitalizes cultures and cultural artifacts through foreign influences, technologies, and markets”(Legrain 516).
Indeed globalization has increased personal freedom, and has allowed communication between nations. For instance, before the globalization era, in most countries around the world, people didn’t have the means to communicate and travel. Globalization came along establishing series of effective communication and circulation channels, leading to the signing of diplomatic treaties, thus, allowing millions of people around the world to express themselves, travel, and exchange information. However, the existing form of globalization – “market driven globalization” – has a hidden side of westernization.
It is a tool used by western countries to spread capitalism and the western culture as the acceptable way to behave while undermining other cultures and even using propaganda to dilute certain cultures, beliefs and ideology. As Legrain also explains, “market-driven globalization doesn’t want diversity… Its enemies are national habits, local brands and distinctive regional tastes” (Legrain 515). For instance, I grew up in Dakar the capital of Senegal, West Africa. Growing up, my friends and I – just like the majority of the people – watched Western media such as MTV, CNN, Cartoon Network, among several Western mainstream media.
Our role models were mainly U. S. rappers and TV actors, which we regarded as the essence of the western culture. There was only one Senegalese TV channel, which, due to lack of resources, broadcasted a few hours a day. As a result, I barely learned anythingabout my country’s rich culture while I grew up, I instead learned the real name of the rapper 50 Cent and could even recite you the lines of some of his songs. Meanwhile, most of my friends in college in the U. S. have no idea of where Senegal is situated on the world map; some of them can’t even tell if Africa is a country or a continent.
Is this a fair form of cultural exchange? Absolutely not! The information is flowing in only one direction. The existing form of globalization is a form of cultural imperialism. The West imposes its point of view to the third world, and then undermines theirs, in return. For instance, a citizen from the western world doesn’t need a visa to travel to third world countries, while citizen in the third world are often refused visa to travel due to lack of funds. The negative impacts of globalization on developing countries do not only limit themselves to the cultural aspect, but also sphere to the economical sector as well.
As Stephanie Black illustrates the case of Jamaica in her documentary “Life And Debt (Negative Effects Of Globalization)”, many developing countries are plunged into enormous debt, and still face poverty due to the mechanism of globalization driven by financial organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank. She explains that, following the decolonization era, many developing countries – now independent – found themselves into enormous budget deficits.
With no capital to finance their own economies, nor the technology to exploit their natural resources, they turned to private banks, for financing. However, their demands were overturned due to unreliability. With no choice left, they had to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund, “an organization…working to…secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world” (IMF, 1). As the IMF explains it on its website, “an IMF loan is usually provided under an ‘arrangement’, which stipulates he specific policies and measures a country has agreed to implement to resolve its balance of payments problem”(IMF, Lending). These “arrangements” include policies referred as Structural Adjustments Policies (SAP) – often criticized for increasing poverty – or the steps toward globalization as some people refer to them. Shah also explains in her article “Structural Adjustment—a Major Cause of Poverty”, that, the SAP consists of agreements with the World Bank, and the IMF, in order to obtain new loans or lower interest rates on existing loans.
Among these Structural Adjustments Policies clauses are: the devaluation of the currencies, initiated to favor exports, due to the deteriorating terms of trade of poor countries (Shah, 3). These devaluations can go up to 50%, as the IMF did with the CFA Franc in 1990, pushing almost all west-African countries into deep political, and socio-economical crisis, thus decreasing considerably the labor cost, and purchase power.
The SAP conditions also include the reduction of social expenditures – initiated to reduce budget deficit- including expenses on education, health, and developmental programs, thus strongly slowing down the development of poor countries, as their governments are unable to build hospitals in rural areas, or build schools which are necessary for every country; nor build roads to effectively connect its population on a national scale, in order to increase its economic strength.
The SAP imposes in addition, full or partial privatization, of state-owned enterprises, which often consist of, the energy, agriculture, fishing, telecommunication, and aerospace among many sectors, thus reducing the country’s sovereignty. In addition, the SAP focuses the poor countries economic policies on direct export and resource extraction, as well as market liberalization and export restrictions. They require developing countries to join the World Trade Organization, and agree to its often-criticized policies.
As Shah explains in her article, “The WTO and Free Trade”, the WTO “is the primary international body to help promote free trade, by drawing up the rules of international trade“ (Shah, 1). The WTO main principles are: non-discrimination, reciprocity, transparency, and special and differential treatment – for poor countries due to unfair trade that has occurred in history (Shah 2). However as good as these principles might sound, they are accompanied with series of agreements undermining local laws and constitutions, thus leading to many environmental and social crises.
Shah explains that, “if for example, health or environmental protections get in the way of the trade agreement, then they often have to be revoked or changed in favor of trade agreements”(Shah, 3). For instance, the fishing, and agricultural industries are mainly the resources of the Senegalese economy. Unfortunately, the SAP market liberalization, has opened the fishing industry to MNC – which naturally has industrial boats, an enormous advantage compare to local fishermen, who have pirogues – giving them the pass exploit the Senegalese coast all year.
As if it wasn’t enough, these trade agreements undermine almost every environmental law going against their interest, thus, not according any time for reproduction of fish in the coastal areas for long term profitability, which ends up killing the national fishing industry. As a result, these policies have left Senegalese fishermen jobless, and have lead to many environmental crises such as the fish extinction in the Senegalese coastal waters.
These policies have also led to the transformation of local fishermen into border escort by using pirogues to travel – for a two-week period – in the Atlantic Ocean, to smuggle in the Canary Islands – a European territory – in hope of a better life. They has also led many other local farmers to immigrate illegally, by going through a journey in the Sahara Desert, and smuggle into Europe, as it is almost impossible for an average African to get a visa to travel legally. Most of these journeys don’t succeed, as many of these immigrants die of thirst in the desert, or drown in the ocean.
In addition, many of those who are lucky enough to survive their journey, are deported as the European Union signed many agreements with African governments to deport illegal immigrants back to their respective countries. The SAP have also imposed the removal of price controls and state subsidies – mostly food and energy subsidies – while maintaining subsidies for developed countries – according to the article “Impact of Globalization on Small Farmers” by Deva E. Reddy, the U. S. spend $18 billion each year on agricultural subsidies (Reddy, 3).
These policies fortifies the western economies, and increase poverty in poor countries. For instance, the U. S. dump its subsidized products – including rice, and powdered milk among many others – in the African markets at very low prices while local farmers cannot compete, as the prices of the American products sold in the market are lower than their production cost. Local farmers cannot afford the technology to produce and compete with the MNC. As result, the agricultural sector is shrinking, pushing farmers to immigrate.
Shah adds, “In effect, the IMF and World Bank have demanded that poor nations lower the standard of living of their people” (Shah, 1). Market-oriented globalization does not only cause cultural, economical, social, and environmental crisis, but has also led to many political crisis. The global mechanism put in place by the western countries has supported many dictatorships in history, and is still supporting dictatorships, and genocide around the world. While the Western countries claims that they believe in democracy, they have long supported many regimes whose practices go against the principles of democracy.
Among them, the early dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Mobutu in Zaire, the Shah of Iran, and the actual regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, in power for over 30 years. This has given a pressure power to China; thus, allowing let them do almost whatever they want to do around the world. Even at the expense of innocent lives, even if they infuse the African markets with toxic toys, poisoned milk, while supporting regimes that commit genocide. The situations in Darfur, and Tibet, among many others are perfect illustrations of the political pressure China exerts at the U.
N. Security Council. They are blocking any intervention in Darfur while financing the Sudanese government with weapon loans – thus, financing genocide, as it is explained in Hilary Andersson’s article “China ‘is fuelling war in Darfur’” (Andersson 1). In return they receive exclusive rights to pump the country’s oil, and trading agreements in many sectors. So far, 400,000 civilians have been killed in Darfur, and 2. 8 million people have been displaced (Do. 1). How many more live is it going to take for this masquerade to stop?
It took over 800,000 dead civilians in Rwanda in 1994 – approximately 10,000 people were killed each day – before the western world reacted, and stopped the violence (Human Right, 1). Hopefully, it won’t take the same numbers for a full U. N. intervention. Proponents argue that Globalization promotes economic growth, and give the illusion that we are living in a “_post_-Americanism” era. In his article “The Rise Of The Rest”, Fareed Zakaria argues that, “the world has shifted from Anti-Americanism to post-Americanism. He continues asserting “in 2006 and 2007, 124 countries grew their economies at over 4 percent a year.
That includes more than 30 countries in Africa” (Zakaria, 27). Zakaria does not mention that Multi National Corporations, mostly from America, and Europe are taking profit from these numbers. Thus leaving millions of people around the world in deep poverty. In conclusion, the Globalization mechanism is just a continuation of colonization. Nowadays it is done in such a way that public opinions don’t see the negatives impacts it has, by the control the western super-powers exert on the mainstream media. It is a mechanism nourishing the western world, while impoverishing the third world.
It has indeed some positive aspects such as the effective communication and circulation around the world, but overall its negative impacts dominate its image. As of today, The IMF, WTO, and World Bank programs and policies have negatively impacted millions of people around the world and resulted in increasing poverty, thus, increasing the dependency of the underdeveloped countries on the developed countries. These policies have also, widened the gap between the rich countries – Western nations – and the poor countries – developing nations, mostly old colonies. MNC: Multi National Corporation