Is Globalisation in Retreat?

By Ben Watts

16 November 2018

Globalisation was seen as a future innovation when it became a popular term in the early 90s. Its promise was to create a borderless world integrating a functional single global economy. People have been dismissive of this change which is deemed irreversible, and reminiscent of the Luddites destroying machinery during the industrial revolution.  

Since its inception globalisation has appeared to have reached its peak and is currently stagnant. Globalisation stalled for a number of reasons. Transnational corporations continued to carry the bulk of production and sales within its country or area of origin, with just a handful of corporations distributing production and sales equally through different regions.  

Problems such as global overproduction, stagnation and environmental collapse would only get worse as capitalists competed to shift the burden of adjustment rather than construct a mutual cooperate response.  An example being when during the Bush administration a weak-dollar policy was implemented to support the recovery and growth of the US economy at the cost of Europe and Asia. For a globalist system to work cooperation should be the national strategic choice. National capitalists’ best interests however remain to not lose out to their rivals.  

A lack of agreement and harmony is displayed in the promise of globalisation and the results of the policies being put into place. These policies have created more poverty, inequality, and stagnation. As interventionist states used their polices to manage and influence the market, they were responsible for the release of 120 million Chinese people from poverty. The rate at which finance was reaching globalisation was at a much higher speed than production. This however provided more disorder than flourishment as the Asian financial crisis saw the collapse of the economy of Argentina.  

The obsession of constant economic growth is both the driving force and weakness of globalism. With the World Bank praising growth as the key to expanding the global middle class, other factors such as global warming, oil and environmental events convey that growth patterns from globalisation can be fatal ecologically. Popular resistance to globalisation has come in the form of many high-profile marches and protests. Anti-globalisation comes in the form of thousands of communities and cultures throughout the world, such as the middle class, workers, students, and indigenous people.   

Globalisation can be merely seen as an advanced development of capitalism but it’s essentially a response to the underlining issues surrounding the structure in system production. It’s been almost two decades since globalisation was set to revolutionise the future. Instead of enabling capitalism to enter a new phase in its development, it became more of an attempt to get away from stagnation and uncertainties which surrounds the economy.   

While many progressively inclined see humanising globalisation as the next step, others could point to the ideology as being a finished force. The increasing political and economic conflicts we are facing today resemble the period following the end of the first era of globalisation back in 1815 to the beginning of World War 1. It’s vital to manage the retreat of globalisation to avoid the same struggles than escalated following its downfall in its earlier era.  

With Donald Trump declaring war on globalisation and Britain voting for Brexit, both countries have declared national interest above everything else. Even following recent developments however globalisation is not likely to be averted. Production and investments have become more interconnected and global, trading of services across borders are increasing, and social media is linking society together globally. Efforts to reverse the beneficial services globalisation provides will be almost as despondent as the way luddites attempted to prevent industrialisation.  

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