Rethinking Globalization By Sajida Bibi
The belief that globalization has resulted in freer transnational mobility of everything and ensured equitable distribution of resources is nothing but a partial portrayal of the phenomenon. The complete reality of the matter suggests that the nature of the current wave of globalization is more asymmetrical than the previous wave witnessed in the 19th and early 20th century. This can be assessed by the consequences it has generated by unevenly distributing its blessings among the developing and developed nations, and benefitting a few at the expense of the majority who are put at a disadvantaged position in the national as well as international milieu.
Many authors have termed the asymmetrical nature of globalization as the “people’s paradox of globalization”. The concept refers to the phenomenon of international mobility where the regime for international mobility is unequally defined for material objects (commodities and capital) and non-material objects (people). In today’s era of globalization goods and capital move more freely across countries while international migrants are more restricted. They have been entangled through various visa formalities, work permits and passport formalities so that they can be hit hard by such regulations and find it difficult to move internationally. In contrast, globalization is in favor of material and money exchanges which take place at frequent rates rather than masses.
Andres Solimano in his book, International Migration in the Age of Globalization, contends that this phenomenon is consistent with the concept of “commodity fetishism”. “Commodity fetishism” was developed by German philosopher and economist Karl Marx in his celebrated work, Capital: Critique of Political Economy . By commodity fetishism Marx meant that the personal relationship between people in the world economy would ultimately be replaced by an objective relationship in which greater meaning would be attached to the commodities(products) as compared to people’s energy and talent that makes these artifacts possible. This notion of Marx holds true in the current scenario where commodities and capital are given greater value as compared to people, which is evident from the asymmetrical regime of international mobility .The logic behind the disparity of capital and people is because the recipient nations (mostly rich) find it difficult to deal with the aspirations and unpredictable attitudes associated with migrants while it is relatively easy for them to handle the material objects (goods and capital).
The perception about globalization that it has resulted into a global village is apparently true and fascinating but beyond the limits of reality. We are being exposed only to the brighter side of globalization which makes us glorify it while the dark side is left unexplored. So, we must have a balanced outlook towards both sides to have a deeper understanding of the duality in its character and identify our place in it.
The other aspect of the people’s paradox of globalization lies in the unequal standard of rules for economic/educated elites and working segments who aspire to move transnationally. There are no hard and fast regulations when it comes to the movement of highly educated, skillful, wealthy, and scholarly people but for labourers such restrictions do exist, making the latter less mobile as compared to the former. Regulations are there for both, yet they get tougher when it comes to migration of menial working people. They must wait for a longer time to get visas, work permits and passports, or other such documents. The upper middle class, owing to their possession of embodied capital and diverse social networking, consider it no big deal to move internationally, propelling the phenomenon of the brain drain.
This asymmetrical relation between economic and educated elite, and worker, migration is due to the productive capacities and innovative practices which the former brings to the destination country as opposed to the working class.
The freer mobility of goods and capital has resulted in multiple white collar crimes including money laundering and corruption. Money laundering is directed specially from developing to developed countries as Pakistan has been experiencing from several decades. Similarly, the unrestricted mobility of goods turns out to be a malaise worldwide owing to its undesirable consequences, including smuggling, drug trafficking and other organized crimes.
One of the notable consequences of this asymmetry is the rise of irregular and illegal migrants across the globe who turn out to be a burden on the recipient economy, and the major actors in breaching the legal arrangements of recipient nations. On the other hand, these irregular migrants make their own lives miserable owing to their inability to access social and health benefits, workplace rights and other social privileges, as their status is no more than undocumented immigrants in the realm of the destination country. Their and their family’s lives are miserable, always in risk of being deported or any other form of punishment. It will not be an exaggeration if we term the irregular or illegal migration as the inevitable side effect of the prevailing disparity in globalization.
In a nutshell, the perception about globalization that it has resulted into a global village is apparently true and fascinating but beyond the limits of reality. We are being exposed only to the brighter side of globalization which makes us glorify it while the dark side is left unexplored. So, we must have a balanced outlook towards both sides to have a deeper understanding of the duality in its character and identify our place in it.
Rethinking Globalization By Sajida Bibi