Globalization and Its Challenges to Liberal and Realist Assumptions Regarding the State and New Security Concerns

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Globalization has become one of the most (hotly) debated issues eliciting both great enthusiasm and deep concern. On the one hand, it is argued that it leads to economic growth and prosperity for nations while on the other side, many argue that it only increases the “disparity between the rich and the poor,” [456] and diminishes the power of the states. In this essay, I will analyze the question: how globalization challenges the liberal and realist assumptions regarding the state and what new security concerns globalization brings with it? In other words, I will argue that globalization challenges the liberal and realist assumption of the state as being the main actor because in this era, neo liberal economic policies are being implemented all around the world which has lead to the rise in power and spread of multinational corporations. Globalization also challenges the liberal assumption of ‘absolute sovereignty’ of a state because the spread of communication technology has lead to the blurring of borders. And the economic interdependence amongst states raises questions about the state as being a unitary actor. When it comes to security concerns, globalization has increased fears of states because due to the Internet, terrorists are better connected than they have been before, movement of people has increased fears of more ethnic violence and the spread of ‘dual use’ technology has further made states unsure about their true intended use. However, because globalization and the state are both central to the question, let us begin by first looking at both in order to get a better understanding? Over the years, vast amount of literature has been written on the subject but even today there exists no clear definition of globalization primarily because it affects such a wide range of activities. Simply put, globalization is defined as “increasing and intensified flows between countries of goods, services, capital, ideas, information and people, which produce national cross-border integration of a number of economic, social and cultural activities.” Thus, globalization is not a single process but a combination of different processes. It is important to note, “unlike realists, liberals have regarded the consequences of [globalization and] trade … in positive terms” [85] because it (trade) helps to “further integrate the economies of the world into the international marketplace” [414] which leads to prosperity and growth and also reduces the chance of war. Realists on the other hand, argue that states should only cooperate with other states unless they have something to gain because in this “anarchic system of state structure,” [58] no one can be trusted and so, each state has to fight for its own self interest and survival. This then brings us to the state. What exactly is the state? A state refers to a legal and political entity that performs the functions of governance over a territory. More specifically, a state is a legal structure that has absolute powers to govern over the population living within its defined boundary. Thus, the concept of the state is one that is concerned with territories and administration. Without a territory or the power to administer over its population, it seems that the entire notion of the state is brought into question because if for example, a entity does not have a defined territory, will it then still have the (legal) right to govern? Globalization it is argued (by many) brings into question the role and power of the state due to deterritorialization and economic interdependence, which in turn challenges the liberal assumption of the state as having clearly defined borders. More specifically, Liberals naturally assume that countries have defined national borders within which governments are free to implement their own social and economic policies. However, globalization is largely associated with deterritorialization, according to which a growing variety of social and economic activities...
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