Globalization encompasses one of the modest endeavors of multinational organizations of 1990s that proactively needed to increase their profitability. With the prominent fruits of going globally: an endeavor that finds subtle breeding grounds in the world bank policies, several arguments have been advanced by scholars in virtually every social discipline among them literature, economics, sociology and political science among others; all putting their cases against or in favor of globalization.
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Mann (1997) lays down a model for arguing out the impacts of globalization to the sovereignty of the states. The model distinguishes “local, national, international, transitional and global interaction networks” (p.472). This is done with the chief objective of conducting an analysis of four eminent threats that globalization is apparently argued to foster- “global capitalism, environmental danger, identity politics and post nuclear geopolitics” (Mann 1997, p.472).
These threats among others affect the sovereignty of various nations differently. Core to the heart of the globalization debate is the anti-globalization community mixed reactions about its significance in eroding the sovereignty of states. The behavior of corporations, globalization process and the ideas of capacity of globalization to foster uncontrolled growth of capitalistic global community encompasses some of the major arguments the opponents of globalization deem as central to their case against it.
Responding to these critics, Bhagwati (2002) proclaims, “globalization enemies see it as the world wide extension of capitalism, with multinational corporations as its far-ranging B-52s” (p.2). With these lines of thought, the paper presents the features of globalization and their capacity to influence the sovereignty of nations from a doubled wedged dimension- from anti-globalization proponents and globalization proponents’ perspectives of view.
Core features of globalization and their impacts on state sovereignty
A more conspicuous attribute of globalization is its capacity to foster universality. The term universality as a core feature of globalization attracts many perceptions before the eyes of scholars. However in its basic sense it implies being part and parcel of an open world in terms of free flow of ideas, transfer of technologies and information to the wider space without limitations. The idea is to produce a global unified society.
With the unification of the global society, globalization produces the benefit of providing mechanisms for trade liberalization. With liberalization, protectionist measures are lifted permitting hiked free flow of trade. The immediate repercussion is the enhancement of competition: a key feature of capitalistic economic systems.
From the anti-globalization line of view, “…globalization is essentially the capitalistic exploitation of the weak nations” (Bhagwati 2002, p.4). While monopolies (big multinational corporations), settle in the weaker nations, in terms of political power to make vital global policies, and in terms of resource endowment, they widely tend to have some sort of immunity against questioning their operational policies.
This is perhaps widely justified by the fact that, global organization operates under common policies, which are universal to all its establishments across the globe. While this polices may be justified in the nations where the organization incepted its operation, they may not be applicable and inconsistent with other nations policies.
While powerful nations may have their right to place impediments or even sanctions for such companies seeking to establish themselves within their territories until they are compliant with the laws of the land, weak nations have little bargaining power for the same. As James (1999) posits, “in the second half of the twentieth century there had been large developments, which have acted to prejudice the sovereignty of the state” (458).
Globalization is perhaps one of such developments that largely seem to have political elements embedded in it. A paramount approach to sovereignty of states is not pegged on the “activity of the sovereign states but on the identity of those who control its decision making process” (James1999, p.458).
From this line of thought, developing nations have little to offer in terms of technology in the global market. Consequently, for them to adopt the modest technologies on global sale from the developed nations to revamp their industrial systems, they must develop policies that largely serve to foster dominance of the developed world globally.
The argument here is that, poor nations are compelled by circumstances to denounce their sovereignty in terms of making policies by the fact that they need to compete in the international arena; yet they cannot accomplish this with old functioned technologies.
Another core feature of globalization, as argued by its proponent, is that it fosters interconnectedness across political and geographical boundaries. In the disciplines of social sciences, globalization as argued, “gave a rise to the claim that deepening interconnectedness was the fundamentally transforming the nature of human society and was replacing the sovereign state system with a multi-layered, multilateral system of global governance” (Rosenberg 2005, p.2).
This argument somewhat lacks consistency since, with the increased cyberspace interactivity brought about by globalization; interconnectedness as one of its core features, has the capacity to increase people’s awareness about their sovereignty rights across the globe. With high advocating of democratic societies, empowerment of the general mass of citizens has the effect of improvement of the state whether in terms of administration of its policies or their implementation.
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This is so because a state would have to do what is right for every citizen apparently because he/she already conceive what is right for him/her. This is perhaps consistent with argument that “a legitimate state is one, which can plausibly claim to be acceptable to its national constituents, which is their genuine representative” (James 1999, p.458).
Any argument against the repercussions of interconnectedness as a core future of globalization, arguably, relies on the need of inflexible regimes to refrain from embracing democracy as a modest system of administration of public resources.
The fact that some nations, especially the ones lagging behind in terms of technological innovations strive to emulate the developed nations need not give rise to only the notion that the developing nations are compelled to prejudice their sovereign rights to make their own policies.
The idea is to attempt to catch up with the developing nations since with globalization age, no single nation can exist as a single island. Globalization, consequently, has no harm to the sovereign rights of a state, rather by fostering interconnectedness as one of its core values, it resulted to “The western capitalists development in a sudden spatial expansion which immediately demanded the word global” (Rosenberg 2005, p.46).
Therefore, opposed to the argument that globalization impairs the sovereignty of nations, fostering interconnectedness served to give rise to democratic regimes and shuttered down regimes such as absolutism regimes.
This was by enhancing connectivity of single dispersed knowledge entities to come together, as it amplified their voices against the demerits of such systems of governance in terms of their economic, social and political impacts to the subjects.
With the empowerment and opening of democratic space for the subjects, it is perhaps almost impossible for dictatorial leaders to make miss-informed policies. Consequently, dictatorial leaders have all rights reserved for them to accuse globalization of impairing the sovereignty of the states.
Another core feature of globalization is erasure of virtual demarcations among the states globally. In the development of the further arguments embracing the impacts of globalization to the sovereignty of states, it is critical to lay the fundamentals of the constituents of statehood and then evaluate the impact of globalization to these constituents.
Thinking of a state, the first concept that comes into perspective is territory. According to James (1999), a territory is “where a state starts, territory being the element on which its other elements exist” (p.459).
Across the globe, in physical terms, the territories comprising the states are well demarcated. Where demarcations attract differences, violence is widely voiced. States have the sovereign rights to protect these demarcations. Fortunately, globalization with its endeavor to remove the virtue demarcations of territorial constituents of the states attracts a war of arguments as opposed to physical war.
Given that the right of expression is one among the sovereign rights of a nation, globalization arguably does not act to erode it nor does it attempt to infer that the entire world should unite physically. All it does is to encourage people to unite in terms of sharing knowledge for the common interest of all the world inhabitants.
A state must have people, who contribute to its development. As James (1999) reckons, “a church like university, church, a company or a club is not human person: it does not think, walk and talk as an individual human being does” (p.459). People, however, speak for the state. It thus inconsistent to stage an argument that globalization impairs sovereignty of a state.
Rather, it empowers people to speak better on behalf of the state through opening the channels of interactions globally and opinion sharing. Consequently, Evans’ (1997) argues, “Globalization is not the only reason for the perception that “state authority has leaked away, upwards, sideways, and downwards” and in some matters “just evaporated” (p.65).
Therefore, the conceptualization of the discussed role of breaking down the social divide more often would attract mixed reaction to the proponents of globalization especially by noting that globalization hikes both velocity and speed of social activities. Additionally, a state has its own government. Even though a state may form all sorts of international alliances, it reserves the right to have its international presence; being one of its sovereign rights declared in its constitution, even in the globalization era.
Globalization does not endeavor to breach this right. Rather, it enhances a states feeling of being present at the international arena. Since globalization does not contribute to erosion of the states sovereign rights of international presence, it intrigues how it may lead to leaking states authority as argued by Evans (1997).
Decentralization is yet another feature of global organizations. As Slaughter (1997) postulates, majority of the people internationally thought that “ the new world order proclaimed by George Bush was the promise of 1945 fulfilled, a world in which the international institutions, led by the united nations guaranteed international peace and security with the active support of the world’s considerable powers” (p.1).
Even with the liberal mind acclaimed by globalization era, the control and monitoring of such a world order at best required centralized arm of authority.
Opposed to the calls of globalization that the campaign against hierarchical systems of administration as Slaughter (1997) reckons, the world order talked of by Bush “requires a centralized rule making authority, a hierarchy of institutions, and universal membership” (p.1).
It is perhaps speculative to think of super power nations giving into demands of globalization and shun from their hierarchical systems of administration simply to give in to the calls of an economic, social or even political scholarly theory of globalization. The determination of nature a state would like to administrate itself is, in fact, solely its sovereign right. The multinational institutions such as the United Nations, in fact, cannot exist globally without the much need aid from the developed world.
When it comes to developing nations, a call to shift to a system of administration that is consistent with globalization ideologies held by multinational organizations is perhaps heeded immediately in fear of various likely political penalties including sanctions. Either the main aim of decentralization, as claimed by globalization approaches, is to bring about a world order that has less of fanfare and more of substance as compared to the medievalist or even liberalistic believes.
Under the global world, states are claimed to be “disaggregating into their separate, functionality distinct parts with courts, regulatory agencies, executives and legislatures networking with counterparts abroad, creating a dense web of relations that constitute a new trans-governmental order” (Slaughter 1997, p.2) rather than ceding from existence.
Who spells the codes to be followed by these global arms of government? The argument that, globalization spreads ideologies held by world’s superpower nations in this context hold some substance.
It is perhaps with the realization of this argument that anti-globalists posits that “multinationals must be necessarily be detrimental, because global integration without globally shared regulations must surely make things too easy for international corporations” (Bhagwati 2002, p.4).
Particular concern is on the capacity of such nations to neglect the idea of erosion of their traditional power to determine how to institute their institutions of governance and yet they want the developing world to do the same to match global trends. Decentralization feature of globalization in a way amounts to erosion of the sovereignty rights of states in the developing world.
Sovereignty is a state’s constitutional right that should not be retained even if a state forms multinational alliance or not. Globalization is perhaps one of such an alliance. However, people might not take it this way until they conceptualize the ease with which they can access and share the knowledge through social media.
Even though, the features of globalization are critical in fostering global growth of virtually all nations, the paper has presented a multifold view of impacts of these features in relation to sovereignty of sates. At one hand, it facilitates people’s realization of the way they deserve to be governed and hence compelling the state to execute its sovereign rights to its citizens as spelt by the constitution.
On the other hand, in some extent it tends to alter people’s and state’s sovereign rights of determining how it needs to administrate itself and replace it with governance approaches that take after governance styles characteristic of its origin nations. Even without penalties, developing nations are compelled to make policies that are consistent with globalization calls in an attempt to leap from the benefits accruing from it. This gives some sort of introduction of coercion forces, which are widely inconsistent with sovereign rights of states.
Bhagwati, J., 2002. Coping With Anti-Globalization: A Trilogy of Discontents. Foreign Affairs, 81(1), pp-2-7.
Evans, P., 1997. The Ellipse of the State? Reflections in the era of globalization. World Politics, 50(1), pp-62-87.
James, A., 1999. The Practice of Sovereign Statehood in Contemporary International Society. Political studies, 58(3), pp-457-473.
Mann, M., 1997. Has Globalization Ended the Rise and Rise of the Nation-State? Review of International Political Economy, 4(3), pp-472-496.
Rosenberg, J., 2005. Globalization Theory: A Post Mortem. International Politics, 42(3), pp-2-7.
Slaughter, A., 1997. The New World Order: The States Strike Back. Foreign Affairs, 76(5), pp-183-197.