Chapter 4 – Explaining Globalization
Scholte briefly examines six differing theoretical approaches to explaining globalization – what are they? What is the central theme of each?
Liberalist position globalization is, at the most elementary level, a result of ‘natural’ human desires for economic welfare and political liberty. As such, increased transplanetary connectivity is ultimately derived from human drives to maximize material well-being (through markets) and to exercise basic freedoms (as guaranteed by publicly accountable government). For liberalists globalization is an outcome of people’s strivings to escape poverty as well as to achieve civil and political rights. On a liberalist account it is inherent in market dynamics and modern democratization that these forces should eventually interlink humanity across the planet (Scholte, 2015).
Political realists assume that territorial sovereign states are the principal actors in world politics. Proponents of this approach further presume that states are inherently acquisitive and self-serving, making for inevitable competition as their insatiable appetites for power clash. To manage this unavoidable interstate conflict, some political realists have advocated the use of a balance of power, where any attempt by one state to achieve world dominance is countered by collective resistance from other states. Other political realists have suggested that a dominant state can bring stability to world order if this so-called ‘hegemon’ maintains international rules and institutions that both advance its own interests and at the same time contain conflicts between other states. In the vein of hegemonic stability theory, globalization can be explained as a way that the dominant state of the day – in the case of recent history the USA – has asserted its primacy and concurrently created an environment of controlled competition among states. On this account large-scale contemporary growth of transplanetary connectivity has allowed the US state to promote its national interests and further its power. In another variant of political realism, globalization could be explained as a strategy in the contest for power between several major states in contemporary world politics. On this line of argument, transplanetary connectivity has advanced as the governments of Britain, China, France, Japan, the USA and other large states have exploited the potentials of global relations to bolster their respective power positions.
Marxism is the principal political economy critique of liberalist orthodoxy. This approach is adopted by researchers who are principally concerned with modes of production, social exploitation through unjust distribution, and social emancipation through the transcendence of capitalism. Marxist arguments about globalization have emanated from all fields of social enquiry, albeit most especially from Geography, Politics and Sociology. Marxists reject both liberalist and political realist explanations of globalization. On Marxist accounts, the technological advances that enable globalization have not been propelled, as liberalists argue, by ‘natural’ human drives for economic growth, but by historically specific impulses of capitalist development. Likewise, say Marxists، the legal and institutional infrastructures that facilitate globalization have emerged not so much to spread market efficiency across the planet, but to serve the logic of surplus accumulation on a global scale. Meanwhile Marxists dismiss liberalist talk of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ as being not real impulses behind increased transplanetary connectivity, but a legitimating ideology for exploitative global capitalist class relations. Similarly, for Marxists, state policies and inter-state struggles for power are not, as political realists claim, the actual drivers of globalization, but rather expressions of deeper forces of capitalism and class...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document