Globalization? Maybe it's finished when it started. We use this term but
i think wrongly. We should better say "West-zation" or
"Occident-zation". We have a society model like European and/or
American, that is suited in particular economic/political/society way.
Now it looks like the rest of the world is trying to follow the same
USA/EU model of society. The globalization should, on paper, link every
country to each other at all levels, but there's not seems to happen, or
maybe the global society should became another kind of society
different from all the others came from (But we all know it's not
possible). In conclusion, this "globalization" is a kind forced, and in
this way the thinkable reaction of a culture is to protect itself or
prepare the born of other sub-cultures. I like to discuss of this kind
of topics if someone wants to do :)

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I was more "politically correct" but in the whole i agree with you. I speak for the south italian's reality and the natural reaction of my country's people is to grow stronger their national feeling in front of "globalization" (the missing of 2 sicily reign, as like in spain, as like in the eire etc. If our countries serves the capitalistic-like economy the other aspetcts of society will follow that road, the existence of "rich" needs the existence of "poor". Is true that people are not equal between each other, but the inequality should be for the personal aspects not for the economic one. If we want a world with all equals, we are probably dreaming the utopy (will be boring too), and differences between society classes should not mean necessary poor or rich. So the best solution should be by hitting the ideological structure of capitalistic-empire?

GLOBALIZATION is nothing but the realm of the multinational western companies ( plus Japanese) who expand their filiales in the third World in the search of cheap raw materials and low wages. This cannot but bring social inequality and the creation of a small middle class in the thirld World underfeveloped countries that imitate the western model while the most of their compatriots starve. The liberation of commerce and transports is creating a new multicultural reality in every country of the World. The important is not the possibility of transport and communication- these are means- but the mentality and motivation of workers and investors. Not anyone is migrating for fun but for survival. If a poor immigrant worker could feel at home in his host country the same as the rich members of multinational companies in the ''exotic '' countries , then one could talk for equality. If one is feeling oppressed for financial, cultural and poilitical reasons this equality will never succeed.

Cosmopolitanism as a remedy should be based on an ideal equality to be operational. Weber was right 90 years ago to add two more criteria on the basic marxic criterium of inrquality ( the financial one). He added cultural- educational prestige and political power ( macht). Today, many forms of inequality are due to these last Weberian criteria that Marx could not preview. Thus, the anti-globalisation movement has many similarities with the ecological and Peace movements fighting for a better World of equal chances. The solution potentially will come from the educated middle classes of Europe and especially Youth.
I'll first put a disclaimer out: I am an American citizen by birth.


Current theories on globalization are pointing away from a simplified "West vs. the Rest" model. Globalization is really an unfortunate term, in some ways: if you want to understand globalization, you really have to start with political geography, of which the global is only one important scalar. Other scalars include the local and the regional. So, in order to understand globalization, one has to understand the local assemblages of inequalities, as well as the regional assemblages of inequalities.

See Daromir Rudnyckyj's "Technologies of Servitude: Governmentality and Indonesian Transnational Labor Migration" for a good example of what I'm talking about, how there are global confluences that are not necessarily or directly a matter of Western domination.

The multinational corporations of the United States, Japan and Europe are a vital component to understanding the global geographies of inequalities. However, there are many forces and components that operate outside of, or in tangent to, these forces.

So, the geographies of globalization cannot be seen simply at the level of the global. Rather, we have to understand how local geographies overlap and tie to certain other local, regional and global geographies...but not all, and not uniformly. Likewise, we have to see how regional geographies overlap and tie into local geographies (internal to them and external) as well as global.
The local, regional and global are all issues of scalar, which can be considered as the magnitude at which a given socio-cultural phenomenon can be considered.

In some ways, the three terms are analogous to space, as local will denote something that happens in a smaller space than the regional or global scalars. From there, a definite operational answer might become more tricky, and the difference between the local, regional and global might be a matter of relation to each other.

In terms of regional, I'll suggest an example in the voting and governance structure of the IMF. Is it really a coincidence that countries are grouped largely in geographic-cultural categories? Although there are seeming differences from time to time in terms of geography or culture, it seems that there is a tie at least in one of these two aspects that leads to the composition of voting blocks.

So, while the IMF is organized on a global scale, and there are local scalars within each country, there is also a regional scalar upon which the IMF is organized.

Other examples of the regional scalar might include NAFTA, the Warsaw Pact (indeed the Eastern and Western blocks of the Cold War), and indeed, the ailing European Union. Does Turkey belong regionally to Europe or the Middle East?

The regional is a mitigating geography between the local and the global. One cannot simply point to organization at the global level. As with the IMF, the unamanably too large scale of the whole planet can be broken down into constituent parts that are neither local, nor national nor global, but an element of organization in between. (So, it appears that I left an important scalar out of the mix: the national).

In increasing size, we then have: the local, the national, the regional, the global. However, can't we talk about the regional within the nation as well as outside of it? For example, in the United States, there is the South, the North East, the Mid West, The South West, the West Coast and the North West.

I just finished an university course about the intellectual in the past centuries and now, we analyzed the wall that there is between intellectuals and pepole. And it's one of the main causes because the french revolution failed, like the naples revolution too. One of the reason is because an intellectual si pulled to be more "intellect" then "real", i mean, too much mind and few practice, like one of the most italian revolution analyst, Moravia, said: "people doesn't like freedom as itself like intellectuals, freedom should bring something real". Following Moravia and Vico too: Intellectuals are not able to talk to the people... Because they talk to other intellectuals in the intellectual's way. For the rest, this kind of economy is based on consume, the more is consume the more that kind of economy go froward, but after the personal needings, all the consuming is based on egoistic side of personality.. in a scalar way, even buy a nice carpet could be considered a sort of egoistic action, of course it's not "dangerous", but if you put that process on a scalar you can see the more you are pulled to consume, the more you grow your egoistic side. As the more you are in the capitalistic system based on consume, the more you care about your ego instead of other, maybe finding some excuse to justify your conduct to yourself.

About the local, regional, national and global scalar i thin i'm not understanding a thing. Joel, are you saying understanding a scalar line of one region of the world make you generally understand the line of "globalization"?
Hey Jim,

I agree with what you say about intellectuals and consumer society.

You won't find the term "scalar" in Standard English. The closest term would be "scale." In the sense used here, scale refers to the size of a phenomenon. So, in anthropology, a scalar is a kind of unit of measurement for geography.

If I understand you correctly, I agree with you: to understand globalization (the global scalar), you have to understand what happens at the local level (scalar) and at the regional level (scalar).

See the following link. It demonstrates how understanding local issues with oil spills helps us to understand the global inequalities experienced between Third World Africa and the United States. It is just one way to apply the concept of the local and the global.

Hi Joel.

Thinking about your words, i was reminded on Herbert Spencer's Theories, comparing a society structure to an organism. So we can consider the local realities like single individuals and try to understand how they works, and do the same for each level adding the result of local analysis?
I think most political geographers will be concerned about applying organic analogy, but I think you are right, in a way. Currently, I'm thinking about it not through the metophore of the organism, but more through the metaphore of ecosystem.

Jim said:
Hi Joel.

Thinking about your words, i was reminded on Herbert Spencer's Theories, comparing a society structure to an organism. So we can consider the local realities like single individuals and try to understand how they works, and do the same for each level adding the result of local analysis?
It would only make sense to change the term if flows of information and culture were one way, and this isn't true. Even in 1982 when Wolf wrote "A People Without History," he warned the social sciences about ignoring obvious and less obvious connections and ties with are everywhere. A great many studies and ethnographies have only added to this understanding.
The core-periphery, dependence theory that made more sense decades ago, doesn't make as much sense today. We know now for example that the Chinese don't utilize, or think about McDonalds the same way we do, and that the McDonaldization of the world is not happening.
We have also been changed greatly by global interactions, and if you don't see them then it's because you aren't looking with the anthropological lens in your own backyard, which is a serious issue within the discipline.

It would also be a mistake to think, as others here have said, that global relationships are simple or parasitic in nature, thinking that somehow the world today is the one we lived in in 1960. This way of thinking about the world and global relationships are removed from the facts and represent a cultural survival from the last 40 years of the discipline moving to the left and many to the far left. Regardless of ones personal politics, anthropology is supposed to be a science, and we should strive to come to our research without letting our biases dictate what the data tells us.

It is finally a mistake to think that Occident nations are the only ones that have increased the quality of life for their citizens in the past 40 years. This seems counter intuitive to some, but that's because they are operating without the facts:

Anthropology as a whole has done a terrible job separating ultimate and relative truth. In an ultimate sense no single cultural paradigm is any better than another, in a relative sense they can be better suited to a particular ecology, or time period. In an ultimate sense Nazism and social tolerance are equally valid, but in a relative sense one is better than another. Liberal democracy is better than Sharia totalitarianism. Because we fail to separate the ulitmate from the relative, many of us stand paralized to the obvious, and we end up saying strange things.

We have also done a terrible job of contextualizing social and cultural critiques that are suitable for some situations, and conflating them to situations that are not suitable. For example, Gramsci's writings of cultural meme hegemony make perfect sense in his contexts of actual despotic political conditions. However, when we decontextualize this work, and many other's as well, and fit them to weak superstructural only arguments, then what have we really done other than academic masturbation? He was dealing with real infrastructural and structural realities, yet we think that somehow superstructural arguments are going to change infrastructure through the force of will is ridiculous. As Marvin Harris states, the totality of the 1960-1970's counter cultural movement did nothing to change the infrastructure of our society.

The article you linked to makes a perfect example for part of my critique. We have to ask why our environmental disaster is more of a big deal than one in Niger. The answer lies in how connected Niger is within the global community and how relevant they are in others' lives.
The fact is that our disaster will have global implications and will affect more than the US. Niger's disaster will only affect Niger in ways that are immediately understood. We can get pissed about this situation, but that isn't going to do anything but make us feel better. The people in Niger will still suffer. If we want a disaster in Niger to make global headlines, then they have to become more and not less relevant and connected to the global political economy than they are. Africa as a whole represents about 1% of total world trade, which is increasing. People don't care about what happens in the US, because of some innate value we have as a people, they care because what happens here matters in a very real way to them. If we go, everyone goes. If Niger goes, life goes on.
Rick, regarding your first post, it's as if you've read my mind. That's exactly the idea that I'm working on for an article now: flow shouldn't be seen as a 1-way movement.

As for your second post, I understand your sentiment that people tend to only care about what effects them. However, I'll ask you a very unsophisticated, perhaps un-anthropological question, regardless of whether we are discussing the people of Niger or Nigeria: would you like to live in that mess? (Not meaning to target you, I mean the ubiquitous "you").

I'm of a mind that Americans, when they are actually confronted with violence or unfair conditions perpetrated against others, tend to get really angry about it. Few people really like to actually witness someone getting shot down or become ill because some company dumped chemicals in their neighborhood (here, I'm thinking of an old high school friend of mine). Remove them from the bad situation (literally in terms of distance), and it becomes easy for them to ignore it, even pretend not to know.

Of course I wouldn't want to live in that mess. However, I like to at least try to be a pragmatic person, so I try to think of solutions to issues, which are often found in really understanding the chain of causation. When we work only in the realm of ideation, in the realm of manipulating superstructure (symbols, language, cultural discourses), we have to be able to eventually back up these things with something in the culture core of the infrastructure. That is, you can only misrepresent empiric reality so long before you loose credibility. A savvy ad campaign can get people to buy something, but if the product doesn't deliver reasonable satisfaction to a consumer then the product will ultimately fail.

This was always a problem encountered during my time in the army's psyop command. We would be directed to control the information flow in an area to get across the message in a culturally credible way that we weren't there to take land or control a government, but simply there to bring stability and allow for a democratic type of political environment that could hold the monopoly on the use of force in the area so we could leave. However, we didn't have any control or say over how the commanders on the ground actually went about day-to-day business. That is, they wanted us to manipulate the superstructure of a society in a way that was often in direct conflict with the observed day-to-day lives of people. This is why McChrystal is having so many problems in Afghanistan. He's trying to get the behavior of the troop to match the message being put out, but he is going against the informal structures in the military. What he wants will only work if he is able to get every grunt on the ground to suddenly develop a 360 degree, holistic, big picture of what we are trying to do there. Grunts are not big picture thinkers, however. The number one goal of people in tactical situations is to just not die. Everyone wakes up everyday with the singular goal of not dying and not letting their buddies die. The concept of sacrificing their lives beyond them doing their jobs doesn't sit well with them. So, unless McChrystal can somehow create buy-in among the troops that will take them past simply thinking of not dying once they get to places like Afghanistan, he really isn't going to be successful. It takes a lot to get someone to give their lives for abstract concepts, and with the current wars, most people have a hard time rationalizing why we are even there, and that is no different for the troops. He is trying to re-engineer the our military to do something that has never been done with any military in history.

The point of saying all that is to show in hard, factual terms of what we have to consider when dealing with such big issues. We tend to want to ignore the fundamentals of any issue, but it is those obvious, material realities that are the hardest to deal with, and often the ones ignored by many anthropologists that are interested in the ideational cultural space, because it is more interesting, and less messy to deal with. The fact is that working in key positions in government and business, anthropologists would actually be able to do something about issues like the one in Niger. Somehow, however, a lot of them seem to think that they can affect change by write articles and blogging. (I'm not referring to you or anyone here).
"That article of Joel speaks about Nigeria., check again.."

That's embarrassing. Yeah, Nigeria is the most populous African state and if anyone would have global sway it would be them. I don't know how I cognitively filtered that. I know recently Nigeria has fallen on hard times. It would seem your analysis would be the most parsimonious explanation then; that elites within the state with the backing of powerful energy consumers are able to insulate the majority population from having any voice in their state's position on the market.

"This means that Africans are more lazy to work ( if 1/7 or 16% of the World's population represents the 1% of World trade ) ? Or maybe that they were left far from the technological boom and are condemned to survive in feodal and colonial ways of 19th century ?"

I would never make that accusation. No doubt that Africa was the most raped place on earth when it came to colonialism, and it has yet to recover. But, the solutions to suffering on the continent can't be found in how it got so bad there. Currently, China, the US, and the Europeans are competing for dominance in the area and are using capital investment as a tool. This is likely to help the continent in the long run.
One of the issues remaining in Africa is the fact that the state lines were drawn by European powers, and there were no state levels of organization which would be needed to compete on a global scale. There are still sharp divisions within states along ethnic, religious and tribal lines. There is a definite neo-colonialism in Africa, but I'm not sure that could be considered "globalization," since it's really a different form of a very old system that predates the concept.



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