Does Globalization Represent Capitalism or Democracy?

While I have criticized Globalization throughout these blog posts, I still believe that when the First World nations began this program, it was genuinely out of a desire to help get the Third World out of an economic funk. I doubt any of them expected this many problems to come out of such an idea, but ironically that’s exactly what happened. This got me thinking about something I kept describing Globalization to be: a spread of capitalist beliefs, not democratic ones. With the spread of ideology was a core aspect of the Cold War era, Development and Globalization were used as a means to spread democratic neoliberal capitalism to other countries so that they would not be swayed to the side of Communism. And in a way, Globalization did end up promoting a form of political and economic openness, one that offered a chance to achieve their own economic success without persecution. However, at some point between the Bretton Woods Conference and today, the democratic aspect of Globalization was somewhat diminished, with corporation needs and business ethics replacing it as the primary driving focus. While something of a hypothetical conclusion, I feel like this division of democratic and capitalist ideology ended up playing a larger role in why Globalization went from being viewed as a helpful policy to the go-to source of Third World economic problems.

While capitalism and democracy are compatible with one another, that does not necessarily mean that they are two sides of the same coin. By definition, capitalism is an system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by individual private owners and companies instead of the state as a whole. In this sense, control usually lies in the hands of whomever owns a dominant share of the capital/ assets that a country is dependent on. In contrast to capitalism, which is either political or economic by nature, democracy is strictly political and gathers its strength from the majority of its people, some of whom might not even have a desire for capitalist needs in general (Santos, 2013.) That being said, while their core policies aren’t necessarily similar, combined together they form a symbiotic relationship that is capable of benefitting both sides. Since the market sponsors private property, it can to provide its own citizens with a sphere of autonomy that creates individual liberties reminiscent of democracy’s focus on individual rights. On the other side of this relationship, the spread of democracy through the market, rather than through global warfare, promotes ethnics reminiscent of capitalist policy and the individual’s right to own property in general (Coyne, 2007.) In other words, they are both fully capable of collaboration, but the bond that they share remains fragile throughout it all.

So if globalization was used as a means to spread democratic and capitalist ideas across the world, what has changed to weaken the former’s involvement? I think what happened is that this new form of democracy placed a greater focus on the needs and freedoms of businesses than that of the actual people. As a result of economic conflicts causing state-wide inflation and indebtedness during the 70’s, attempts to solve such problems ended up putting more and more power into the demands of the capital, with those of the people gradually being pushed aside. The end result was a rise in social inequality and a loss of government to enforce economic power over both state autonomy and authority, rendering them pretty much obsolete (Santos, 2013.) For the most part, I agree that the government should not have total authority over the market, lest we end up with a system close to that of communism; however, by leaving such market up for individual grabs, we are essentially opening the doors for large-scale corporations to sink their claws into money designed to be shared amongst the people. As much as the West would like to promote the idea that Globalization can help everyone, the people it helps the most are the multi-national business owners, with everyone else scrambling to collect the remaining scraps. This creates something of a survival-of-the-fittest scenario, in which the individual is much more willing to pursue their own economic interest than be concerned with the needs of the public (Crockett, 2011.) To corporate owners looking to outclass the competition, this maybe a viable strategy, but in terms of creating a strong democratic policy, something heavily focused on the power of the majority, this is not the right way to go.

The solution to this problem, at least in theory, is to put a greater focus on balancing the interests of the people with that of the capital, creating a system that can both deliver on its promises of economic and social equality. This means not just dropping down in a country and exchanging a faulty democracy in exchange for resources, but rather making one that is capable of upholding social needs and withstanding economic consequences. And for that, we need to break some of the most hardcore Capitalist ideologies and do the one thing they loath above all else: include the government. As mentioned earlier, I don’t believe that the government should be involved in every little economic decision a la Big Brother, but if they remain unable to step in and put a stop to corrupt or unfair deals made by the multi-nationals, then this program will truly be one-sided. We need them to not only place a greater focus on what the people need to emerge successful, such as better nutrition value and education, but strive towards creating programs and organizations that can help them achieve such goals. By cutting the government off near-entirely from their involvement amongst the people, we have allowed capitalist Globalization policies to spiral out of control, leaving the rich in luxury and the poor in debt, poverty and inequality, all things that we want to see removed for good (Sachs 2011).

The things I have talked about across this blog might seem pretty generic, discussing the problems that globalization has brought upon the Third World and what needs to be done to stop them, but it is through these simple points that we can learn an awful lot. When I first started writing, my perspective on Globalization was that it was just another broken system that started out good but ended up corrupt and self-serving. Now however, I’m not so sure. The problems that need to be fixed in order to start a new path towards change may seem simple enough on paper, but it’s the human ego and greed/luxury that are the real enemies in this mess, the people who took advantage of such policies and used them to their own personal advantage without thinking about the consequences. Sadly, we cannot rewind the clock back to warn the Bretton Woods Conference about what will eventually happen, and we are too far deep in this mess to scrap everything under the table and pretend it was not our fault. What we can do, however, is take a good look at these policies that most people (understandably) blame for the Third World’s current state and try to figure out what should stay and what needs to go. The process of reforming Globalization, should the world attempt to do so, will be long, challenging and definitely experience opposition, but if there is a chance of making positive progress in the Third World, it’s a solid place to start.

Thanks for listening.

 

References

  1. Coyne, Chris. “Capitalism and Democracy: Take Two.” The Economist. August 31, 2007. Accessed April 15, 2016. http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2007/08/capitalism_and_democracy.
  1. Santos, Boaventura De Sousa. “Democracy or Capitalism?” Critical Legal Thinking. June 10, 2013. Accessed April 15, 2016. http://criticallegalthinking.com/2013/06/10/democracy-or-capitalism/.
  1. Dalpino, Catharin E. “Does Globalization Promote Democracy?: An Early Assessment.” The Brookings Institution. Fall 2001. Accessed April 15, 2016. http://www.brookings.edu/research/articles/2001/09/fall-democracy-dalpino.
  1. Sachs, Jeffrey D. “Globalization’s Government.” Project Syndicate. September 31, 2011. Accessed April 15, 2016. http://www.earthinstitute.columbia.edu/sitefiles/file/Sachs Writing/2011/ProjectSyndicate_2011_Globalization’sGovernment_09_30_11.pdf.
  1. Crockett, Sophie. “Has Globalization Spread Democracy around the World?” EInternational Relations. August 27, 2011. Accessed April 15, 2016. http://www.e-ir.info/2011/08/27/has-globalization-spread-democracy-around-the-world/.
  1. “Democracy and Capitalism.” Democracy and Capitalism. April 1996. Accessed April 15, 2016. http://www.spectacle.org/496/demo.html.

One thought on “Does Globalization Represent Capitalism or Democracy?”

  1. Hi Ben. I really enjoyed your post and your thoughts. I walked away from your blog post thinking about capitalism and democracy. It was a welcome change to the typical socialism vs. capitalism discussion. I’d never thought about issues from the perspective you brought. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*