Today and more than ever before, the world has become a “global village” with the expansion of the communication networks, the rapid information exchange, the gradual shrink of borders and of attachment to identities and citizenship, the lifting of the barriers of visas and passports, the consecration of a new era when national sovereignty and the authority of the nation-state is fading away in favor of regional groupings, international organizations and international legality and law. This means the beginning of the return to the universal trend which is imposed by human instinct, but in a broader environment and in an evident endeavor to dominate the world. Today’s universalism is marked by its reliance on sophisticated and highly performing technology that was not available for the old form of universalism. Globalization is also an act and a practice. It is equally an integrated system wherein the subject leaves no choice to the object destined to be shaped up. That is why globalization advocates describe it as inevitable for humanity, sooner or later Globalization is an idea whose time has come. From obscure origins in French and American writings in the 1960s, the concept of globalization finds expression today in the entire world’s major languages. Yet, it lacks precise definition. Indeed, globalization is in danger of becoming, if it has not already become, the cliché of our times: the big idea which encompasses everything from global financial markets to the Internet but which delivers little substantive insight into the contemporary human condition. Clichés, nevertheless, often capture elements of the lived experience of an epoch. In this respect, globalization reflects a widespread perception that the world is rapidly being molded into a shared social space by economic and technological forces and that development in one region of the world can have profound consequences for the life chances of individuals or communities on the other side of the globe. For many, globalization is also associated with a sense of political fatalism and chronic insecurity in that the sheer scale of contemporary social and economic change appears to outstrip the capacity of national governments or citizens to control, contest or resist that change. The limits to national politics, in other words, are forcefully suggested by globalization. Although the popular rhetoric of globalization may capture aspects of the contemporary zeitgeist, there is a burgeoning academic debate as to whether globalization, as an analytical construct, delivers any added value in the search for a coherent understanding of the historical forces which, at the dawn of the new millennium, are shaping the socio-political realities of everyday life. Despite a vast and expanding literature there is, somewhat surprisingly, no cogent theory of globalization or even a systematic analysis of its primary features. Moreover, few studies of globalization proffer a coherent historical narrative which distinguishes between those events that are transitory or immediate and those developments that signal the emergence of a new conjuncture; that is, a transformation of the nature, form and prospects of human communities.
A SUMMARY OF THE GLOBALIZATION DEBATE.
Globalization may be thought of initially as the widening, deepening and speeding up of worldwide interconnectedness in all aspects of contemporary social life, from the cultural to the criminal, the financial to the spiritual, that computer programmers in India now deliver services in real time to their employers in Europe and the USA, while the cultivation of poppies in Burma can be linked to drug abuse in Berlin or Belfast, illustrate the ways in which contemporary globalization connects communities in one region of the world to...