Globalisation is undoubtedly one the hottest issues in the contemporary political and economic debate. But, what is globalisation? Is it good, or bad? Pundits say that globalisation is inevitable, and that being “against” globalisation is like being against the force of gravity. Is it really?
In an essay written for a joint FES–IPS publication, a prominent contemporary thinker, John Ralston Saul, had some really interesting words about the globalisation hype:
- “History is pretty clear. There are no philosophical or political inevitabilities. And as the theories of human evolution go, economics is a fairly minor field of speculation. As for globalization, it is perhaps the first broad economic theory to insist that civilization can only function through the prism of economics. [...]
- There lays our greatest difficulty in understanding the state of globalization. It is an approach to human relationships which is so utilitarian that it blocks us from the global reality of others. Here is a world theory which, curiously enough, encourages remarkably narrow fields of connection between humans. [...]
- I am not suggesting that nothing positive has come out of globalization. I am merely pointing out that a system declared to be inevitable and global is neither. And this is not a good sign, but nor is it a bad sign. It is certainly a sign of a troubled period with an uncertain outcome. [...] Globalization’s failure is that it no longer holds the promise of eventual success for those who feel they suffer from it (emphasis added) [...].” – John Ralston Saul, “Globalization really?”, in Globalization Insights, a joint FES–IPS publication, Berlin, May 2005.
Globalization seems to offer humanity both threats and opportunities. Mainstream media has focused mainly on the opportunities, downplaying the threats. While opportunities ought to be recognised and exploited, threats must receive our full attention as well, since those marginalised by globalisation are often the least equipped to make their voices heard.
With roughly 70% of its journalists reporting directly from the countries of the South , IPS has been in a unique position to analyse the impact of globalisation from Southern points of view.